At approximately 3:15 this morning the police in Lower Manhattan received a phone call noting that shots had been fired outside the Avalon club. There was apparently one victim. At 3:19 a squad car arrived to find famous cereal mascot Tony "The Tiger" Monserelli lying on the sidewalk with several gunshot wounds to his abdomen. The responding officers called for an ambulance and attempted CPR, but Monserelli was unresponsive. He was pronounced dead at 3:25.
This latest killing is the third suspected homicide involving a cereal mascot in the last 5 weeks. The first was the death of Joshua "Frankenberry" Schwartz in an apparent mugging gone bad in Greenwich Village, followed by a suspicious drug overdose of Leonard "Count Chocula" Wilson at his home in Los Angeles. Mr. Monserelli's death was certainly the most public of the three and comes as a shock to the entire cereal mascot community.
"I can't believe he's really gone." Said Arthur "Trix Bunny" Green. "Tony was...I don't even know how to put this into words...Tony was..well...he was grrrrreeeat." Mr. Green's thoughts are echoed throughout the mascot community, with many talking about how Mr. Monserelli had helped them get established in their careers and given pointers about how to do the job both effectively and professionally.
"Without Tony I don't know where I'd be. Probably in prison for selling crack to children." Says Golden Crisp mascot Stewart "Golden Crisp Mascot" Miller. "Thanks to Tony I was able to avoid the life that so many of my brothers and sisters were sucked into and become a professional. I was the first bear in my family to graduate from college, and Tony really showed me the ropes."
Tony's longtime live-in boyfriend the Corn Flakes rooster was not at the club but issued a statement through a spokesman. "The Corn Flakes Rooster is devastated by the loss of his lover Tony Monserelli. He is asking for anyone with information on the brutal slaying of Tony the Tiger to come forward and speak to police. He is offering a reward of a lifetime supply of Corn or Frosted Flakes to anyone who has information that leads to an indictment."
Witnesses have given conflicting accounts of the incident. Most agree that a Lincoln town car sped around the corner as Monserelli left the club and that shots were fired from the car into the crowd where he was. Nobody else was hit but Monserelli collapsed on the ground and growled something like "Well this is just grrreeeaaaattt." Before losing consciousness. The driver of the car was identified as a Leprechaun while the shooters were described as a brown bird and a honey bee. A witness who refused to be identified claimed that she recognized them as The General Mills Gang. "There is no doubt in my mind that General Mills set this up. Follow the money, the cereal money. I don't want to talk anymore, that bird, she's coo coo."
General Mills is the enigmatic ex-military man who heads up the General Mills cereal company. He employs several mascots with shady reputations to hawk his cereal, in competition with the products supported by the three dead mascots. None of the other mascots would talk to us on the record about Mills, but it is clear that all fear him. Mills earned his military stripes during the Vietnam war where he headed up Mills Marauders, whose motto was "Stays Crunchy in Milk." It is not clear if he was ever officially promoted to general, and in fact the Pentagon claims that all records related to his activities are classified.
Whether General Mills is behind these deaths or not one thing is clear, it's not a good time to be a cereal mascot. Several current mascots are considering retiring or moving to Europe, including the Waffle Crisp Kid and even Fred Flintstone, who eeks out a living selling fruity and cocoa pebbles. "Will leaving this gig hurt? Yes." Says Flintstone. "But I have a family to think of. Pebbles is a single mother and she needs our help with the kids. If something were to happen to me...well...it's just not worth the danger."
The police say they will continue to pursue all leads in the Monserelli case, and there is discussion of re-opening the other deaths. Says spokesman Brian Doughgut "We'll look into things, we're not going to allow these crimes to go unpunished and if there's a link we'll find it. I don't want people to panic though. As far as we know at this point these are not serial killings."