Heber Wild Horses group picture

The stallion on the far left and the bay mare on the far right were found dead in the forest the morning of Friday, Feb. 1, by members of the Heber Wild Horses group.  On the same day, the palomino mare pictured above was found alive but injured, allegedly from a gunshot wound. The mare had to be euthanized that day, also according to the Heber Wild Horses group.

I am a hobby photographer and an eyewitness to a man shooting across a forest road at wild horses in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest on May 2, 2019. At the scene of the shooting, I called 911 and a Navajo County Sheriff’s Deputy responded. Another person called the U.S. Forest Service but nobody from that agency responded to the scene.

In my view, the handling of my complaint about this shooting has been treated with disregard from the moment the deputy arrived on scene. The man shooting a long gun was allowed to leave the scene after he claimed to be shooting at a tree stump in a southbound direction from in front of his truck. Only after he was allowed to leave the scene did the deputy gather information from me which clearly contradicted the man’s story. I advised the deputy that I had many photos and videos that would corroborate my eyewitness testimony, which were, in fact, later turned over to NCSO on a thumbdrive. My photos and videos are compelling evidence that support my account of the incident. The first photo taken immediately after the shooting ended clearly shows the man with rifle in hand, ear protection in his ears and body facing in my direction, where he had been aiming at the wild horses on the top of a waterhole to my right just moments before. Yet the NCSO Incident Report issued on May 10, 2019, shows no indication that I turned over those photos and videos as evidence and it indicates the investigation is closed.

In light of the recent killings of wild horses in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests where 11 wild horses have been confirmed by the USFS to have been shot dead and considering that my life had been in grave danger during this shooting incident, I find it irresponsible that NCSO handled their investigation in the disinterested manner that they did, quickly closing out the investigation and citing “no criminal intent” in media interviews. During one media interview, Sheriff David Clouse had the audacity to say, “And I don’t think from her vantage point where she was down in that water tank that she could tell exactly which direction he was shooting at,” referring to me. That’s a very misleading statement as he ought to have known from my statements, photos and videos, that “down in that water tank” was not my position when I saw the man shooting at the wild horses.

I also find it very peculiar that the USFS has never contacted me to discuss my eyewitness account, especially since I provided them (as well as NCSO) a written statement of my account on the day after the incident.

All of these circumstances really leave me wondering, what will it take for law enforcement to treat a wild horse shooting incident seriously?

Kathie Reidhead lives in Payson.

(4) comments

USWBLN22

We believe you, Kathie, and back you all the way. Thank you so much for standing up to this man, who at the very least, is an irresponsible shooter. I, too, was appalled when I heard the comment by the Sheriff that you couldn't see the shooter from your position. Only a fool would believe you couldn't see the shooter, yet your camera was able to capture him. Not only that, but I went out to that water hole and walked it from your position, as well as from the shooter's position, which I saw with my own eyes that day. You had a very clear view of his position. I know where he was and, as a matter of fact, he didn't get all his shell casings. I picked up one of his shell casings from right next to his foot tracks on the ground. Thank you for being so bold and so brave as to stand up to the "good old boy" system, or outright corruption that allows this kind of shoddy police work to happen. Keep speaking out, Kathie, we all need you and wish there were more people like you!

TheChef

Anybody want to bet it's a cop shooting the horses?

2rusty

GREAT job by the WMI in publishing the three (horses/cowboys/wolves) editorials on the same page in the same edition! Both topics are tinder box ones with few happy solutions but neither should be decided by people who don't live with the problem on their own turf.

solopakaloloinshowblow

And thank you kathie.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.