By BJ Lutz and Natalie Martinez, NBCChicago.com
Two Chicago police horses were injured late Sunday night after a vandal or vandals broke into their stables at the South Shore Cultural Center.
The horses, part of the Chicago Police’s Mounted Unit, were let out of their stables sometime between 9:45 p.m. and 11:15 p.m., said Lt. Paul Bauer. One of the horses, J.R., was apparently sprayed in the face with a fire extinguisher. A second horse, Schott, had a cut to its leg.
Twenty-seven of the nearly 30 horses were released from their stables and were found walking around the barn, which had tissue paper strewn about.
“At this point, it’s all conjecture as to how they got in, but obviously there’s people out there who would know who entered this stable, and they did not enter this to commit a theft, rather it appears they entered this to maliciously harm our horses. For what reason, I don’t know,” said Bauer.
He declined to answer questions about security measures in place at the stables.
The Mounted Patrol dates back to 1974, with many of the horses named after fallen officers. Fourteen-year-old Schott was named after officer Richard R. Schott, who died in 1997 from a heart attack while struggling with a prisoner, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page website.
J.R., 20, was not named after a fallen officer. He came to the department in 1999, but the naming convention didn’t start until 2001, Bauer said.
“The horses were very agitated and fearful because of what they had just endured,” he said. “The type of incident that happened last night upset a lot of people, including everybody that works here.”
No animals were injured last week in a fire at a stables on the city’s near north side that investigators deemed suspicious.