‘There is a real threat still out there’: Gunshots injure dog, traumatize neighbors in North Union Street neighborhood

Published 6:50 pm Wednesday, May 3, 2023

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NATCHEZ — A quiet Tuesday night in the 800 block of North Union Street in Natchez was abruptly interrupted by gunshots, seemingly out of nowhere, according to a property owner traumatized by the incident.

Witnesses to this incident asked to be left anonymous for fear of retribution.

The property owner said her 33-year-old daughter was in the front yard of her home for less than a minute, walking her dog in the yard, when the gunshots rang out after 11 p.m. Tuesday.

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One of the bullets hit the dog, a seven-year-old golden retriever named Murphy, in the leg.

The dog was on a non-retractable leash, standing right next to his owner.

“I was in complete shock,” she said. “I couldn’t believe that it happened, just out of the blue.”

She couldn’t see who fired the shots. She just happened to look up into the bushes by her mother’s driveway and saw a light “like a muzzle flash” and heard gunshots coming straight toward her.

She ran all the way around the house to the back door and remembers yelling at Murphy to come up the steps and get inside until she realized he couldn’t.

“There was blood everywhere,” she said.

Murphy is a very quiet and alert dog and typically would’ve noticed if someone were in the driveway. The fact that he didn’t bark makes her suspect that whomever fired the gunshots was hiding, she said.

“He didn’t hear anything before the shots went off,” she said. “It made it seem like they were hiding in the bushes.”

The mother and daughter rushed Murphy to the Louisiana State University veterinary hospital, where he had surgery to remove the bullet lodged in his right hind leg at the knee joint. The bullet would be sent by the vet to the detectives at Natchez Police Department as evidence. Now the doctors are monitoring him for infection before they can proceed with another surgery.

They don’t know whether they will be able to fuse the bone or have to amputate the leg.

His owner, still shaken, said the ordeal has made her worried for her safety and her mother’s.

“I had been there visiting for about three weeks and Murphy’s dad dropped him off later and he had been there about a week,” she said. “I walk him around the yard and that’s it. I don’t even walk him on the street. It has made me very concerned to be in that area. I’m also worried for my mom’s safety, who lives there. I like visiting Natchez — loved visiting there before this. Now I’m scared.”

The mother said she was screaming at her daughter while she ran. Witnesses said they heard between six and 12 gunshots. By the direction of the shots, “It appeared to be someone crouched by some box hedges in my driveway,” she said. They couldn’t see who was shooting or a car.

She said it’s around 30 feet from where her daugther was standing in her front yard to the end of her driveway.

“She ran and I was screaming. I knew he or she (the shooter) was right there,” she said.

She and several neighbors called 911 at the same time.

The neighbors later converged outside when the police came, going up and down the streets of the neighborhood but found only a tennis shoe without its owner.

“They have been back over several times today looking for shell casings,” she said. “There is a real threat to the Natchez community still out there. I don’t know of anybody that would do this. … We have thanked God all night and all day that it wasn’t any worse.”

Natchez Police Chief Cal Green confirmed that no suspects have been identified. She said it was unclear if the shooter was aiming at the dog or not.

The investigation is still ongoing, Green said.

“If anyone does have any information, we ask them to come forward,” she said.