It was only last week that three horses belonging to a rancher in Socorro County, N.M., were shot and killed on his family’s ranch located south of Box Canyon. The shooting of animals, in this case three healthy pastured horses, is a crime and a felony. New Mexico’s Statute 30-18-1 declares, in part, “whoever commits extreme cruelty to animals is guilty of a fourth degree felony.” Obviously, the killings of Socorro County rancher Jerry Armijo’s horses is extreme cruelty to animals and the guilty individual(s) will be arrested accordingly. Officials have increased media exposure the last couple of days and built a reward fund to keep the public aware of the recent horse killings and to secure tips, leads and information to help solve the crime.
The dead horses were discovered by Paul Summers who is Armijo’s ranch manager. Both Summers and Armijo and the authorities investigating this crime believe the horses, based on their bodies, had been dead about two days when they were found.
The investigation is under the leadership of Detective James Nance on behalf of the Socorro County Sheriff’s Department. Assistance is also being given by a knowledgeable agent from the Bureau of Land Management.
According to Nance, investigators have only limited evidence from the crime scene and the deceased horse bodies. Nance has a set of tracks and knows where the shooter stationed himself and the distance to the horses. He suggested that the criminal gave himself about 200 yards after having gone into the field about a quarter of a mile from the road. Apparently this killer was intent on taking aim at the horses and walk in their pasture to do so. Nance thinks that this criminal “has experience shooting elk, based on where the wound were located” on the dead horses.
Source Chieftain has a statement from Armijo in which the rancher relates that his family has operated a ranch in the county of Socorro for 50 years and that the use of horses is of major importance to the ranch. Not only are horses used to work the livestock, to inspect the cattle herds, but the animals become an integral part of the family. Armijo says his family keeps horses for many years and cannot be easily replaced. According to the Chieftain, Armijo “emphasized that ranches depend on well trained and experienced horses.”
Armijo also said,
Each horse has a name and a distinct personality. Cowardly and senseless slaughter of these animals is not only animal cruelty at its worst, it is an attack on the very livelihood of all ranching families. For this reason, we have received a tremendous outpour of support from ranching families throughout the state who are banding together …He acknowledged that everyone has been especially considerate. The killings have troubled and repulsed everyone and his family is thankful for the expressions of encouragement.
The Socorro County Sheriff’s Department urges anyone with information that could lead to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the horse killings to contact them at 575-835-0941. A reward fund of $2,500 has been established.