Grazing horse felled by single bullet in Copake
COPAKE–A horse that was given a second chance at life was shot and killed while it grazed peacefully in a pasture along Yonderview Road sometime between Saturday night, October 8, and Sunday morning, October 9.
Heather White, who handles marketing at the Catamount Ski Area, owned Luna, the nine-year-old mare, a black and white paint that was in a pasture at Ms. White’s Rocky Meadow Farm along with three other horses at the time of the shooting.
Out-of-town for the Columbus Day weekend with her family before the ski season ramped up, Ms. White got a call Sunday from a neighbor letting her know something was very wrong with her horse, Luna. The mare was last seen alive late Saturday when she was fed by the person who was taking care of the horses while Ms. White was away. Sunday morning, a neighbor noticed Luna lying down in her pasture and assumed she was basking in the sunshine as horses sometimes do. But when Luna had not stirred by the afternoon, the neighbor called Ms. White.
“She died in the field, but we didn’t realize how she died until we moved her and saw the bullet hole,” said Ms. White. Luna had been shot in the side of the neck and was lying on the side that the bullet had entered. There was no exit wound.
The mare collapsed and bled to death in the field.
Ms. White purchased Luna last December at an auction as a birthday present to herself. She noticed who was bidding on the horse and that the bid was very low. “Auctioned horses are often disposed of at meat prices,” she said. Afraid the horse was going to end up in the hands of “a kill buyer,” Ms. White stepped in and purchased it for $400, deciding this horse “did not deserve that fate.”
Luna lived at Ms. White’s farm with eight other horses, some rescued by Ms. White, others boarded there.
When the bullet wound was discovered, Ms. White called police. Copake Police Officer Larry Edelman responded with mutual aid from the Sheriff’s Office. Ms. White said police told her the bullet appeared to have been intentionally fired from the road by someone who was an excellent shot. The weapon was likely a rifle, she said, and though the caliber was not known, she said the hole was big enough to accommodate her father’s pinky finger. Police told her they were going to interview neighbors, walk around and look for evidence such as bullet casings.
Officer Edelman told The Columbia Paper that bullet trajectory, caliber and exactly when the shooting occurred are all parts of the case that remain under investigation.
Asked whether the case was considered connected to the November 2010 drive-by shooting of the entryway at the new Roeliff Jansen Community Library, less than a mile away, Officer Edelman said, “not at this time.”
Someone arriving at the library the morning of November 15 last year, just a week after the building’s grand opening, found extensive damage to the door, windows, and both interior and exterior walls done by six shots fired, presumably from Route 22. No one was ever charged with the crime investigated by the Sheriff’s Office.
As a result of the shooting of her horse, Ms. White has moved all the remaining animals to a different pasture, where they cannot be seen from the road.
Owner of Rocky Meadow for the past seven years, Ms. White said, “Anyone who knows me knows I would do anything to keep these horses safe.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, friends, neighbors and people Ms. White has never met had raised $2,600 in reward money for information leading to the arrest of the person or people responsible for shooting Luna. Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call Copake Police at 518 329-2727.
A Facebook page has also been dedicated to the crime: Facebook/who shot Luna?
“I am heartbroken,” said Ms. White, “I have lived here all my life and never in a million years would I expect something like this to happen here.”