HOOPESTON, Ill. (WCIA) — A Hoopeston family is mourning the death of their family horse, Apache.
AJ Garrison, the Apache’s owner, said someone shot and killed him earlier this week.
Kristy Garrison, his mom, said on Facebook the horse was discovered dead from multiple gunshot wounds on Tuesday morning. Someone had apparently trespassed on A.J.’s property and shot Apache before leaving.
He found Apache in one of his fields near South McKinley Avenue and Cedar Street in Hoopeston.
A lot is still unfolding. On Wednesday morning, Vermilion County’s Chief Investigator said he only knew what was shared on social media. Hours later in the afternoon, his investigators were with AJ Garrison on his property, asking questions and working to learn more.
“I just need answers. That’s all I need,” he said.
On Tuesday morning, he got a phone call that one of his horses was out of his property. But it doesn’t end there.
“We got the other one in and come to find out Apache was shot and dead,” AJ Garrison added.
Apache was 5 years old. AJ Garrison said they didn’t hear anything suspicious.
“Apache was a good, loving horse that we and all my kids rode and took care of. He had his own personality. He was a good boy,” he added.
AJ Garrison feels it’s disturbing. He wants to know who did it and why.
Garrison was in shock when he found the body with a neighbor.
“Couldn’t even tell you, I didn’t know what to think. I never could’ve imagined it. He wasn’t a horse. He was family,” AJ Garrison said.
Apache was a horse many in the area loved. AJ Garrison’s daughter took pictures with him before her high school homecoming dances. The neighbors always interacted with him at the fence.
Now, AJ Garrison is on high alert.
“Pretty much all day all night I’m driving by, trying to keep track of everything,” he said. “I haven’t slept too much here. Just trying to keep an eye on the property.”
He said it shouldn’t have ever happened to begin with.
“It’s very disturbing. I don’t even have answers for what it is,” AJ Garrison said. “They’re more than pets or more than livestock. They’re family.”
Kristy Garrison called Apache a “kind and gentle animal” and said the discovery was heartbreaking for her family.
“There is no excuse for intentionally killing a gentle animal just for entertainment,” Garrison said. “I hope that whoever trespassed on private property and took pleasure in killing Apache is caught.”
Garrison’s parents offered a $200 reward for anyone who could provide information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible. In an edit to her post, Garrison added that more people upset by the crime also stepped in to add to the reward, which now sits at just under $1,500.
“I really hope someone starts talking so this person can be held accountable,” Garrison said.
Vermilion County investigators are still working through the details.
Anyone who can provide information about Apache’s murder is asked to call the Vermilion County Sheriff’s Office at 217-442-4080.
This is a developing story.