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Four horses killed in ND ranch shooting

COOPERSTOWN, N.D. - Four horses were killed on Thursday at a ranch about 10 miles southeast of here, shot in the head during the day, a sheriff's deputy says.

Investigators don't have any firm suspects or any idea what the motive could be for the horse shootings, Griggs County Chief Deputy Terry Gray said Friday.

The ranch's owner left the property about 2 p.m., and a friend found the horses dead in the barnyard at 5 p.m., Gray said.

Whoever shot the horses, four of the seven corralled at the ranch, was "up close and personal," firing a small-caliber weapon that was possibly a .22, he said

Thursday's incident was about a quarter mile from the site where three cows were also shot with a small-caliber gun roughly two weeks ago, Gray said.

A former township hall and numerous mailboxes have also been shot up recently within a couple of miles of the animal killings.

Gray said deputies think it is possible the unsolved shootings could be linked, though it's unclear so far.

A phone number listed for Schmidt Performance Horses - the training and breeding center that Dallas and DaLayne Schmidt founded in 1995 - was disconnected when called Friday.

An email sent to DaLayne Schmidt wasn't returned Friday afternoon.

On the Facebook page for the business, commenters were offering condolences.

"Sorry to hear of your devastating loss," read one comment. "I truly hope you catch whoever did it and they are prosecuted to the full extent of the law!"

The quarter horses killed at the facility overlooking the Sheyenne River were worth about $4,000 to $5,000, not including the future value of the offspring of two pregnant mares that were killed, Gray said.

Gray said access to the ranch was limited, but he wouldn't say if there were any tracks leading onto the property.

The deputy urged anyone with information on the shooting to call the Griggs County Sheriff's Office at (701) 797-2202.