Horse shot, killed on Groveland property, deputies say

Fatal shooting of 15-year-old black quarter horse reported by victims Sunday morning

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – A horse was found shot and killed in a pasture at a Groveland home, according to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

Lake County deputies responded Sunday morning to a call from the victims who owned the 15-year-old black quarter horse.

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According to an incident report, they discovered her dead after going out to feed their other animals. The victims noticed blood spewing from her nose and a small hole, similar to a gunshot wound, marking her left side.

Upon inspection of the horse, deputies confirmed the bullet entered her body, but showed no exit wound. They said they believe the horse ran around the pasture before succumbing to her wounds.

The owners told investigators they heard two loud booms, believed to be gunshots, between 10-11 p.m. the previous night. They also heard their dogs, whose kennels are situated in the horse pasture, barking until 1 a.m. the night of the fatal shooting, investigators added.

The victims, who own other horses, goats and dogs, said no other animals were injured.

No shell casings were found in the surrounding areas and no other complaints of shootings were filed with any local law enforcement agency, the report continues.

Detectives said the victims did not notice anything suspicious, on cameras or otherwise.

“The deceased horse was properly buried by the victims on their property,” the report reads.

The person responsible faces an animal cruelty charge, as well as a felony criminal mischief charge because the horse was valued at $10,000.

Scott and Tonya Sanders said they got the horse about eight years ago from Texas. The family credits the horse for helping Tonya get back into barrel racing.

“That horse was my heart and my soul. She gave me my confidence back. She took care of me,” Tonya Sanders said.

The family said they were home Saturday night when they heard what they thought was a vehicle tire popping on the roadway nearby.

On Sunday morning, the couple said they made the discovery.

“She didn’t just die. I was like somebody did something to this horse and then we noticed some blood in her nose and we turned her over and found a little bitty bullet hole just above her hip,” Tonya Sanders said.

The couple wants anyone with information to come forward and fear someone else may become a victim in the future.

“For someone to just shoot an innocent animal, in its pasture, that’s a coward,” Scott Sanders said.

No suspects have been identified at this time.

About the Author:

Samantha started at WKMG-TV in September 2020. Before joining the News 6 team, Samantha was a political reporter for The Villages Daily Sun and has had freelance work featured in the Evansville Courier-Press and The Community Paper. When not writing, she enjoys travelling and performing improv comedy.