WARNING: Some photos may be considered graphic

EAGLE -- An Eagle family is looking for answers after their horse was fatally shot over the weekend.

The horse's owner and investigators are trying to find the person responsible.

Devon Smith owned the horse. He's had him since he was a kid on his family's property in Eagle.

His name was Rocket, as a 4 year-old-kid, that's what I named my horse, said Smith.

Smith was in his family's barn when Rocket was born 21 years ago, and ever since, Smith has considered him family.

Every time I got off the school bus I used to walk up across the pasture to the house, and he would always walk with me every single day, said Smith.

But hours after Smith got home for the holidays on Saturday, Rocket was found laying, bleeding in the pasture.

Smith later learned the fatal injury was intentional.

Finding out it probably wasn't an accident is devastating, said Smith. It infuriates me.

Rocket had been in the pasture with the six other horses the family owns.

Smith believes someone driving on Willow Creek Road, shot him on purpose, with a high-powered rifle.

It was right in the chest. If you were going to shoot a deer to kill it, you would shoot it right in the chest. Sadly, it didn't kill him right away, and that's probably one of the worst parts, the fact that he suffered, and I have no idea who did it, said Smith.

The horse was found hours later and couldn't be saved.

Now, the Ada County Sheriff's Office is investigating, calling this an unusual and cruel crime.

It appears from what we can tell that it's a random deal, not an accident. It's not a place where people normally shoot, so we don't have any solid leads, but someone drove by here and intentionally shot this animal, said Sgt. Patrick Schneider.

As for Smith, he has 21 years of memories with his favorite hunting horse but is frustrated that someone would purposefully take his life.

That animal has been in my life for two decades. I watched him be born, and I've watched him die, and I would just like to look the person in the eyes who did this, said Smith.

The Sheriff's Office says they are also concerned that someone would shoot a high-powered rifle in the residential area where the crime happened.

They tell us, if convicted, the person responsible could face an animal cruelty charge with a $5,000 fine and six months in jail.

If you have any information on this case, call the Ada County Sheriff's Office.

Smith hopes the person responsible is caught and prosecuted.

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