CANTON, Ohio-- Stark County authorities are trying to find a gunman who killed two horses while they were out in a pasture late Sunday.
Bob Janson lives across the street from where the horses and others are boarded and heard the gunshots.
"We went to bed early about 9:00 and just got to sleep and all of a sudden I heard automatic weapon firing, about eight shots and I couldn't believe it. I sort of jumped up and looked around and thought what the heck was that?" said Janson.
He phoned the sheriff's office in the morning after making a startling discovery.
"When I got ready to go over to work, as I pulled around, I saw these two horses just laying there and I went 'oh my God, I think he killed the horses.' I was sick," said Janson.
One of the two horses was a Mustang-Arabian mix named Ebony.
Its owners said Ebony was a therapy horse for their 19-year-old daughter.
"She was her therapy horse and a big part of her world," said Brenda Boyce in a Facebook post directed at the gunman, who she called a "coward.
The second horse, an Appaloosa named Peaches, was the prized posession of 16-year-old Monica Townsend.
"That was literally my best friend," wrote Townsend in an e-mail to FOX 8 News.
"She followed me everywhere. Each time I went down there she would walk right up to me and when I'd feed her and leave the barn to do something, I could say her name and she would talk back. She was a sweetheart," wrote Townsend.
Stark County Sheriff George Maier called the crime troubling.
"There's some concern that this is something going on that's not related to these particular animals. For some reason that somebody is out there maybe randomly shooting animals in a field, then we have some concern with that, but it's a little too early to go down that path," said Maier.
Investigators recovered bullet casings from the scene.
The owners plan to have a veterinarian remove the bullets from the horses before they are buried so they can be turned over to the sheriff's office.
No one can understand why someone might use horses grazing in a pasture for target practice.
"It just hurts to see animals like this killed for no reason whatsoever. It's a shame, what have we come to," said Janson.