Sheep killed by gunshot near Pierre

Carrie Stadheim
Ten ewes on the Carroll ranch near Harrold, South Dakota were shot during the night of June 27, 2016. The Hughes County Sheriff's office is investigating. Photo courtesy Connie Carroll

After almost a dozen of their ewes were shot and killed in their pasture Monday night, Connie Weldin Carroll is angry.

“They violated my place, my home,” the Hughes County, South Dakota woman said.

Sometime after 10 p.m. June 27 and and 6 a.m., June 28, someone drove up Bernie and Connie Carroll’s driveway, shot 11 ewes in the pasture and left without waking up any family members. The couple lives about 4 miles from Harrold and about 35 miles east of Pierre on a cattle and sheep ranch.

The Carrolls discovered the sheep around noon on Tuesday but haven’t found any shell casings or bullets.

Connie said they have no enemies or grudges and no idea who to blame.

“We have no ill will with our neighbors, no feuds going on. Seriously we have nothing, that’s why we are all so blown away,” she said.

Carroll said seven of the sheep were shot behind the ear in the head while the other four were shot under the chin. She figures 10 died instantly while one died two days later.

While most of the sheep were about 500 yards from her house, one was about 50 yards away from their home. All of the sheep were in the same pasture. The family had recently weaned lambs, which are in the corrals on feed. Several horses are also in the home corrals.

Connie thinks a silencer may have been used because none of the family members was awakened by the sound of the vehicle or the gunshots.

The Carrolls believe the shooter or shooters may have parked on their driveway and then exited the vehicle and walked into the pasture to perform the shootings.

Sergeant Darin Johnson said the Hughes County sheriff’s office doesn’t have any solid leads but that they continue to welcome any information from the public that could help them develop leads. “We just don’t know exactly what happened,” he said, adding that they do not know whether the shooter or shooters were inside out outside of the vehicle when the crime was committed.

While the sheriff’s department is not concerned that this kind of event will happen again, they encourage anyone in the area to pay special attention to their surroundings. “Keep your eyes open and report any suspicious activity.” In light of the recent incident, “our office would more than likely respond right away,” to such a report, he said.

“This kind of thing never crossed my mind, Carroll said, and her nerves are frazzled. She doesn’t believe that the perpetrators were troublesome kids. “Kids aren’t that careful. This was a thought-out deal. They didn’t pull out into the pasture, they did’t speed out after they did it.” A $1,500 reward is offered for information that leads to an arrest or conviction, thanks to several friends and neighbors, and even strangers who’ve offered financial help.

“It’s crazy. We don’t have this kind of stuff around here. I’m just blindly trusting, I guess.”