Pet tortoise shot and killed in Zionsville

ZIONSVILLE, Ind. -- A pet tortoise named Merlin was shot and killed in rural Zionsville, Indiana Thursday, leading to outrage from hundreds of people. 

According to the Facebook page, Justice for Merlin, the tortoise lived in a fenced-in yard for 12 years before it escaped sometime Thursday afternoon. 

The tortoise apparently made it to a sheep farmer's house, who shot it on his property, according to the page.

The farmer told the tortoise's owner, Tasha Chapel, he shot Merlin. 

Chapel said she had searched for hours once she found out Merlin was missing.

The Boone County Sheriff's Department is investigating the incident. In a release, the department said its animal control liaison has been in contact with the tortoise owner, the person who shot the tortoise and multiple witnesses. 

"The welfare of all who reside in Boone County is priority, whether human or animal," the release also states.

"To know that someone willingly and knowingly shot and murdered a honest to God dinosaur that is the most beautiful creature I've ever seen is devastating," said Chapel.

She said her remaining tortoise, Daisy, can tell Merlin is gone.

"We've been trying to pay as much attention to her as possible... giving her extra love and attention," said Chapel. "She almost seems a little stir crazy at this point."

The page has a YouCaring page and is selling T-shirts, to raise money for Merlin's preservation and any upcoming legal fees. 

Coots Henke & Wheeler, P.C. issued the following statement on Wednesday.

"The Zionsville man who has lived in the area for decades, apologized to the pet’s owner immediately after he realized his own terrible error in judgment.  He expressed his sincere sorrow to the family and continues to indicate a desire to make amends.  The overwhelming negative response on social media with distorted facts and speculation, has put a barrier between the man and the pet’s owner with attempts to make amends nearly impossible.  The family is understandably angry and grieving for the loss of their beloved pet.  The man is devastated that he mistook the exotic pet for a potentially harmful animal.  He is hopeful that he will be able to meet with the pet’s owner to more fully express his sincere apologies." 

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