Libby man arrested after allegedly shooting horse

| July 10, 2020 7:52 AM

Authorities accused a Libby man of shooting horses corralled in a residential neighborhood with a .22 caliber rifle June 23.

Mark Allen Kilgore, 61, faces charges of aggravated animal cruelty and criminal endangerment in Lincoln County District Court following the July 1 incident. He was held on a $250,000 bond.

Authorities began investigating Kilgore shortly after a Vanderwood Road resident reported that one of her horses suffered apparent gunshot wounds. In an affidavit, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Brent Faulkner described finding a horse with “obvious open wounds with visible dried blood and swelling” when he arrived on scene about 12:05 p.m.

Of the three horses Faulkner inspected, one had sustained wounds to the right haunch, left knee and suffered two injuries to the neck. He deemed the wounds consistent with a .22 caliber bullet, according to court documents.

The horse’s owner told Faulkner that a friend had surveillance camera footage showing a person hefting a rifle approach the animals and then shoot. She identified the individual likely as Kilgore, who owned a nearby residential trailer, court documents said.

Faulkner detailed the video in his affidavit, writing that the individual left Kilgore’s trailer with the rifle and walk out of view. The horses, also captured on the footage, went from quietly grazing to “apparent panic,” according to court documents.

This continued on and off for about 34 minutes, Faulkner wrote.

A veterinarian working on the injured horse provided the sheriff’s deputy with one of four bullets lodged in the animal. The other three bullets were left in the horse out of concern the extraction would further injure the animal, Faulkner wrote.

Close examination of the bullet revealed it as a specific type that is advertised as “subsonic and ultra-quiet” ammunition, Faulkner wrote. Two witnesses later provided authorities with 50-bullet boxes of the ammunition allegedly given to them by Kilgore prior to the shooting, court documents said.

When Faulkner tested the ammunition, he was “shocked by how quiet it was.”

Faulkner interviewed Kilgore at his home July 1. According to court documents, Kilgore denied taking a gun outside or firing a gun on the date of the incident.

Faulkner executed a search warrant and later found a spent brass casing of the specific type of ammunition at the location where authorities believed Kilgore had fired from. He also found a half-empty box of the ammunition type inside Kilgore’s house. It was located next to a .22 caliber rifle hanging on a rack, court documents said.

Faulkner reported finding more boxes of the ammunition elsewhere on Kilgore’s property, according to the affidavit.

Faulkner also noted that the shooter would have fired near where cars and pedestrians traveled along Vanderwood Road. Anyone walking or driving along the road was “in danger of being struck by bullets,” Faulkner wrote.

A neighbor told Faulkner he had noticed the horses acting strangely, court documents said. By determining where the man stood when the horses acted up, Faulkner realized the neighbor was directly in the line of fire, court documents said.

Faulkner arrested Kilgore the same day, according to the affidavit.

Aggravated animal cruelty carries a maximum punishment of two years imprisonment and a fine of $2,500. Criminal endangerment is punishable by up to 10 years behind bars and a $50,000 fine.