89ºF

Jacksonville family wants answers after horse shot, killed

Mandi Harris sets up GoFundMe to raise reward money for arrest in Turbo's death

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The owner of a horse that was shot in the head and killed over the weekend in Jacksonville's Oceanway neighborhood is offering a reward to anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest in the animal's death.

On Saturday, Mandi and Justin Harris posted to Facebook graphic photos of Mandi's horse, named Turbo, that show the horse dead on the ground.

The couple's post also said the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office crime scene unit conducted a full investigation and believe the horse was shot with a high-powered rifle fired from the direction of either Oceanway Village or the Gillespie Gardens area between the hours of 10 p.m. Friday night to 5 a.m. Saturday.

Mandi said she grew up with the horse and they’ve participated in many local rodeos. 

“That was very emotional because this is a horse we have had on the property. My Uncle Jack actually bred him and trained him for me. I've had him since I was a child,” she said. 

On Monday, roses could be seen at the base of stable with Turbo's name.

Ann Higgs, Mandi's grandmother, owns the ranch where Turbo was boarded, which has been in the family since the 1930s. Higgs said she's taking precautions to protect the other horses.

"(I'm) very concerned," Higgs told News4Jax on Monday. "We shut them up last night. I just went back and turned them out. We can't just keep them in the stalls."

Higgs offered her own suspicion of what happened to Turbo.

"I think somebody got a new gun. Maybe with a night vision on it, because it was dark, and they (were) just trying it out is what my thoughts are," Higgs said.

Mandi said she can’t think of anyone who would want to bring so much hurt to her family. 

“If someone has the ability, and they're that mentally disturbed to kill an animal, they would do the same thing to a person,” Harris said. “So my goal is to get this person off the streets.”

Mandi said Saturday that she's offering a $1,000 reward to anyone with information that leads to the arrest of the person involved in the horse's killing because police have little evidence.

Since then, Mandi said, she's received so much support from people who wanted to contribute to the reward that she set up a GoFundMe account for anyone who would like to donate to increase the reward amount.

If no arrests are made, Mandi said, the money donated will go to humane society in Turbo's honor.

"Nothing can bring my horse back, but at least knowing who did this would give me a lot of peace," she told News4Jax on Monday.

Along with lack of evidence in the stable, another issue police have is where the gun or bullet came from. While at the ranch on Monday, News4Jax noticed signs for security cameras, but was told they do not show anything. 

Gil Smith, News4Jax crime and safety analyst, viewed the crime scene and said he does not believe the shooting was random. 

"It appears that this crime may have been planned," Smith said. "The person knew what they were doing because there was only one shot fired and the shell casing was not there. The person took their time and took the shell casing to minimize the evidence at the scene."

Other ranchers said they're concerned for their horses' safety and are putting them safely in their barns because of fears the shooter may kill again. 

Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500. To remain anonymous and be eligible for the reward offered by the family, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS. 


About the Authors: