A horse pulling a buggy with an Amish family aboard in rural Pennsylvania was struck by a bullet fired from a moving car and later died, police said on Tuesday.
No people were injured in the drive-by shooting, which occurred on Sunday in the village of Ronks in the heart of Lancaster County's Amish country, said Lieutenant Robin Weaver of the East Lampeter Township Police Department.
The buggy was about a mile from home when the two adults and three children aboard heard a loud crack, police said.
"At the time, they believed it was a firecracker," Weaver said. "They didn't realize it was a gunshot."
The family continued home, where they realized the animal had been injured.
"When they got to the farm, the farmer noticed blood from the horse's mouth," Weaver said. The horse died before a veterinarian arrived.
Weaver said the Amish are sometimes victims of harassment, and it is not uncommon for passing motorists to throw firecrackers, eggs or other food at them. One reason may be that the Amish religion includes a belief in pacifism.
"They're an easy target. They can't fight back," Weaver said. "If I knew why people thought that was funny, I'd be rich."
Weaver said he could not recall a similar incident in 30 years of law enforcement. Police are investigating and plan to conduct a necropsy on the animal in hopes of recovering the bullet, Weaver said.