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Horses Shot in Chickasaw County, MS


Spot; after being shot. He later had to be euthanized due to the extent of his injuries.

Goldie and Natchez, the two who survived their gunshot wounds.

The elusive Blackjack, the Miniature who escaped the shooting incident.

Kids with posters at the candlelight vigil (photo from Audrey Grace Freeman)
By Tara Priest

Chickasaw County, Mississippi – Horses are curious and adventurous creatures.  Unfortunately, most of the time, they know no danger, and may set out to see what’s beyond their own pasture boundaries.   That’s exactly what a herd of family horses did on Monday, September 18, 2017.  They ventured away from their homes onto a neighbor’s adjoining land.  Tragically, what they didn’t know was that they’d be met by humans who were armed with, what are suspected to be, assault rifles.  Eleven equids, including two donkeys, Hanz and Franz, were repeatedly shot that day and nine, including the two donkeys, were found dead around 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday September 19.  Two of the horses who were shot survived their injuries, Goldie and Natchez, and Blackjack, a mini, managed to escape being shot.

 “I had a sick feeling in my stomach all day that day,” said horse owner Russell Knight.  He and his uncle, Dalton Christian (also a horse owner) had been out searching for their beloved horses all morning. They drove their ATVs to the adjoining land, named “Hayes Bottom,” in an attempt to run the horses back home. The herd then ventured off further to an area that was too muddy to cross.  While there, they noticed combine machinery parked in the corn field nearby, but saw no activity.  Since they both had to get to their daily jobs, they agreed to come back and find the horses later on if they hadn’t yet returned home. 

The following morning around 5:30 a.m., Knight drove his four-wheeler back to the site where the combines had been the day before, Hayes Bottom; but the combines were gone. The nauseating feeling of panic returned as he found one of his horses had been shot.  He called for the rest of them, but found that each of them had been shot, and were either dead or severely wounded.  Out of a herd of twelve, ten horses and two donkeys were all shot. Only one miniature had escaped the round of bullets.  

The first questions that come to mind were: Who would do such a thing? And why? 

Two months prior to the shooting, Christian had received a phone call from the neighbor.  The neighbor was very displeased that the herd had been caught on his land eating his corn.  He demanded that Christian pay him a large amount of money in damages as soon as possible.  Christian apologized and agreed to pay the damages in October.  The neighbor replied that if he caught the herd on his property again, he would “take care of it himself.” 

Christian later discovered that gunshots were heard by two witnesses around noon on Monday, September 18, after he and Knight had gone to work.  Shortly after the shot horses were found in Hayes Bottom, county investigators were instructed to bury the animals right away.  Knight got wind of this, put a stop to the burials, and asked that the investigators search for bullets and shells.  Only one partial bullet was retrieved and no shells were found on the grounds.

Knight said, “There is not a doubt in my mind at all who did this.  Now we just have to prove it.  I’m afraid they just want to sweep this under the rug, but it’s not going to happen. Our family is devastated.  These were our pets and they were raised from babies on our land. Each one was loved and had a name.”  

Dalton’s son, Scott Christian, also a horse owner, sadly remembered: “It broke my heart when my little girl said, ‘Daddy, why did my horse get shot?’  Our kids adored these horses and they are irreplaceable.”

This horrific act of violence has upset a lot of people and horse lovers – not only in the area, but also nationwide.  Such organizations as PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), AAIM (Animal Advocacy Initiative of Mississippi), and the IDA (In Defense of Animals) have all gotten involved.  “This was a very malicious act and it’s about time that we as a society start acting and punishing people who commit this type of violence,” proclaimed Doll Stanley of In Defense of Animals (IDA).  So far, no one has been arrested for the crime.

PETA is offering a $7500 reward for information about the perpetrators.  Also, the family is offering $3500+ in reward money.  Donations are being taken through Facebook on a page titled “Reward for the 9 horses shot and killed in Chickasaw County.”

A candlelight vigil to honor the lives of the slain horses was held on Thursday, October 19, 2017 at the Chickasaw County Courthouse.  Friends, family, and supporters gathered on the front lawn of the Courthouse in remembrance of the slain horses and donkeys.  Supporters also held picket signs at the vigil to send the message that this will not go away until someone is punished for the heinous act. 

“It’s so lonely here now and it’ll never be the same,” said Knight remembering his beloved horses.  Luckily, there are two horses that survived their gunshot wounds:  Goldie, the Palomino, and Natchez, the Paint.  Although quite traumatized, they are doing well considering their severe injuries. 

As far as the investigation goes, they’ve questioned a few people, but nothing solid yet. There may have been two or more shooters.

My husband and I paid them a visit recently.  They got special attention from me as he trimmed their hooves.  Blackjack, the miniature, is a lucky little fellow who somehow escaped the incident without a scratch. 

The others were not so fortunate. Chloe, Autumn Wind, Missy, Lineback, Ben, Lil Streak, Spot, Hanz and Franz, may you rest in peace and run free in Heaven where there are no bad people to harm you.

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