CHOCTAW — A series of at least six cow slayings in Choctaw appear to be connected and a national animal advocacy group is offering a reward to help find who did it.
Police in Choctaw said two separate incidents have left three adult cows and three calves dead of gunshot wounds.
The shootings also happened close together, on neighboring properties along NE 36th Street in Choctaw.
Nearly three months ago, on May 21, police said two cows were found dead. They had been shot in the head and chest.
Several weeks later, on July 13, a mother cow and three calves were found shot to death on a neighboring property.
A necropsy performed by a Shawnee veterinarian showed that a .22-caliber rifle fired the shots that killed the mother cow and her calves, which were Longhorns.
Choctaw Police Chief Conny Clay said the six head of cattle likely aren't the only victims of the shooter or shooters.
“In the same mile-section, an Oklahoma City police officer … his horse got shot,” Clay said. “And then, to my understanding, there's another horse that got shot pretty close to the same area.”
One of the horses had to be euthanized, police said, but it's not clear whether the other one survived the gunshot wound.
Clay said no shell casings have been found by investigators, indicating that the shooter or shooters may have fired the fatal shots from inside a vehicle.
“Could be,” the police chief said. “Could be.”
Clay said an investigation into the shootings is active but would not say whether authorities have identified or focused on a suspect in the case.
“Right now we can't comment on who we think it is or how old we think they are,” he said. “We're looking at all leads.”
Several Oklahoma County sheriff's office patrol cruisers were in the area of the shootings Monday afternoon, but it's not clear what they were doing. Clay would not say on the record why the sheriff's department was in the area.
Clay said “public safety is always a concern” in cases like this.
“We obviously don't know what's in this person's mind until we catch them,” he said.
The cow slayings have attracted the attention of the Humane Society of the United States, which is offering a $2,500 reward for information “leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for serial cow killings in Choctaw.”
Harry Waldrip, the owner of the mother cow and her three calves, also is offering a reward of $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.
Waldrip, who keeps about 20 head of cattle on 70 acres near NE 36th and N Henney Road, said he found the mother and her calves last month “on Friday the 13th.”
“I went over there around 7:30 in the morning and saw one cow down by the pond and saw two laying there and thought, ‘That's kind of odd,'” Waldrip said. “I drove down there and two of the bigger steer calves were laying there dead and that cow was almost dead.”
Waldrip said he didn't know what was wrong with the cows until he took them to a veterinarian in Shawnee.
Waldrip said the veterinarian told him that the cows were each shot once, and they bled to death.
“I'm pretty sure it's a kid with no guidance and too much spare time,” he said.
The cows' owner is not sure when the animals were shot, but he said it likely was under the cover of darkness.
“It had to be in the evening time, you know, because the four that they killed were predominantly white,” Waldrip said. “I'm thinking it was later in the evening or at night … and they could see them.”
Waldrip said he believes the shooter or shooters may recently have killed an additional two cows in the area.
“Another guy lost a 2-year-old heifer … she wasn't calving or anything … just healthy one day and dead the next,” he said. “So, they just dug a hole and buried her.”
Waldrip said the bullet wounds on his animals weren't visible to the naked eye. He said he paid a veterinarian $60 to help determine how his animals died.
“You couldn't see it on the outside, even after we skinned it,” Waldrip said. “You couldn't see it until you took the hide back and then you could see the hole through it.”
The bullets pulled from his cows were from .22-caliber rifle, he said.
Waldrip, who is a retired Tinker Air Force Base worker, called the cow slayings in Choctaw “a total waste.”
“If somebody had come in there and shot them and took a hindquarter or front-quarter, you'd say, ‘Well, they're hungry,'” he said. “Or if they'd stole them, took them to town and sold them, you'd say, ‘Somebody was broke or needed some dope or something.'
“But to just kill them and let them lay there ... that's just a waste ... nobody could benefit.”