UPDATE: Help from public wanted in drive-by horse shooting
Lancaster New Era
A horse pulling an Amish buggy died after being shot in a …
Police say they do not yet have any real good leads in the drive-by shooting that killed a horse pulling an Amish family on Sunday.
The mother, father and their three children in the buggy could not provide any description of the suspect vehicle other than saying it was definitely a car and not a truck or sport utility vehicle.
The shooting occurred along a secondary road in East Lampeter Township, so it’s unlikely any help will come from surveillance cameras, township police Lt. Robin Weaver said.
And as of Monday afternoon, no witnesses other than the family have come forward.
“We don’t have much to go on right now,” he said. “Help from the public would be greatly appreciated. Anyone who knows something or may have heard a gunshot or saw a car.”
Police were arranging to have a necropsy done on the horse to retrieve the bullet since no exit wound was visible, Weaver said. But they don’t know how much evidence it will provide.
“That is the only thing we have to go on right now so we will see what we can get from that,” he said.
Meanwhile, the news of a drive-by horse shooting in the heart of Lancaster County Amish country has spread.
“The story generated quite a bit of news media interest all over the country,” Weaver said. “We’ve gotten calls from Kentucky, California, Time Warner, the Reuters news agency.”
Animal rights groups have called police to try to donate money so a reward for information can be offered, he added.
Weaver understands the interest in the incident.
“It is so unusual and so cruel to shoot a horse for no reason like that and endanger human life as well,” he said.
The Amish family included three children ages 12, 9 and 7, Weaver said.
They were likely returning home from a church-related gathering at about 9 p.m. on Sunday as their horse pulled them north in the 100 block of North Ronks Road.
About a mile from home, a car passes them from behind and they hear a “loud crack,” Weaver said.
“They believe it is a firecracker because that is something that happens to them, unfortunately,” he said. “People do all kinds of things to the Amish, throw eggs and food at them, and apparently firecrackers.”
“The horse didn’t pull up, but continued going,” Weaver said.
Some people have asked if the family knew the horse was hurt and forced it to finish the trip home.
“That is not the case at all,” he said. “The family didn’t know it had been struck.”
None of the occupants of the buggy was injured, police said.
The unidentified car did not stop after the incident.
When the buggy reached the family’s farm, a member of the family took the harness off and discovered blood coming from the horse’s mouth, Weaver said.
A veterinarian was called, but the horse collapsed and died of a gunshot wound to the area of its lungs before the vet arrived.
An examination of the animal revealed a bullet hole in the left chest area.
Livestock are shot at occasionally, but Weaver couldn’t remember another case during his 30 years as a police officer in which a horse pulling a buggy was shot.
“It was extremely dangerous,” Weaver stressed. “The horse is very close to the carriage, and the area is in a residential area.”
“Anything could have happened,” he said. “The horse could have bolted. A bullet could have ricocheted and struck (the buggy occupants). It could have missed and gone into a house.”
“This showed extreme indifference to human life,” Weaver said. If caught, perpetrators could face charges of cruelty to animals and recklessly endangering another person.
Township police ask anyone with information to call them at 291-4676.
Tipsters also may call Lancaster City/County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-322-1913 or anonymously text LANCS plus your message to 847411 (TIP411).
The Amish family was “distraught” over the loss of their horse, Weaver said. “They had the horse for 13 years.”