CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- A Chester cat rescue shelter is asking for the public’s help after one of their long-time rescues was found dead.
“They shot him point blank in the right eye, point blank and killed him,” said Shelter Director Lynne Layton.
It happened early Wednesday morning in the gravel driveway of Smitty’s Cat Rescue Shelter in the 13500 block of Jefferson Davis Highway.
Layton said she found the late owner’s cat “Chester,” in a pool of blood around 5 a.m. when she arrived to feed the animals.
“I hit my knees because Chester was the first one who greeted me every morning,” said Layton. “I looked down and I went ‘oh my God Chester’, it was the most horrific scene that I can tell you I have ever seen in my life.”
Layton said video from a camera outside the property showed Chester’s fellow feral cats scatter after the sound of gunfire.
“I got to watch Chester jerk and die on video. I got to watch that and that’s how I watched Chester’s life end,” said Layton. “I want to know who did this, I’m afraid it’s going to happen again.”
Layton said the video, that is now in the possession of animal control, does not show who pulled the trigger because the sensors on the flood lights outside the building did not get triggered until the cats ran.
Layton added new lighting outside the property Wednesday afternoon.
Chester was buried Wednesday under his favorite peach tree on the shelter property where he was born seven years ago.
“This is his home, and it’s going to be his home forever because of some hateful violent person,” said Layton.
However, authorities said Friday that they believe the animal died of blunt force trauma.
Chesterfield police exhumed the animal's body Thursday to perform a necropsy.
Officials said the cat was not shot as originally reported as there were no entrance or exit wounds.
In fact, based on the exam and x-rays, police said it appears the "Chester" died from blunt force trauma and was struck by a car.
Smitty’s is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 2008 to provide care and find homes for surrendered and homeless cats and kittens. It currently has 31 indoor cats and kittens and 8 outdoor feral cats.