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Runaway horse crashes through store window in East San Jose

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Police shot and killed a runaway horse in East San Jose on Saturday evening after he suffered severe cuts from smashing through the front glass window of a western wear store on White Road.

The white gelding was not wearing a saddle but had a 10-foot lead rope around his neck. San Jose police said the horse was put down because he was bleeding heavily and there was no way to calm the highly distressed animal.

"It's a tragedy," San Jose police Sgt. John Marfia said. "Nobody wants to shoot a horse."

Marfia said police had not yet identified the owner of the horse, and no one had come forward.

One witness said he noticed the horse when he was driving on White Road.

"At first I saw a kid on another horse," Zachary Holbrook said. "I thought he was trying to chase somebody. All these cars were stopped in the road, pointing at something."

Holbrook pulled into a shopping center at White and Story roads when the loose horse turned in there. The gelding ran past Rite Aid, Vito's Pizza and a check-cashing place before smashing through the window of Hammer & Lewis Fashions, which is at the end of the row, next to a wall.

"I was still in my car when it went through the window," Holbrook said. "It tried to back out but got scared."

The horse was stuck in the window, half in, half out, and bleeding heavily for about 25 minutes. Then, said Holbrook, it "ripped out the rest of the window" and ran into the store.

Police received a call about a horse walking in the lanes of Story Road at White at 6:14 p.m., Marfia said. They received a second call three minutes later from an employee of the Western wear store, saying the horse had jumped through the window.

"When officers arrived, the horse was in the rear of the store," Marfia said. "He was bleeding from multiple areas, several arterial bleeds."

Marfia said police made calls to the California Department of Fish and Game, a veterinarian who treats large animals, local animal control and their own mounted unit looking for help.

"Over the half-hour, we were with him, you could tell he was losing stamina and a lot of blood," Marfia said.

A couple of people who were horse owners helped police try to calm the animal. The horse could see sunshine through a metal security screen door but got spooked when anyone tried to open the door because it swung inward. Animal control had no tranquilizer for the animal, Marfia said.

Finally, officers were able to coax the animal outside, and a decision was made to put him out of his misery, said Marfia, who was given the task of shooting the horse.

"Because we were unable to secure a tranquilizer to calm the horse, and the nature of his injuries, he had to be dispatched," Marfia said.

A bloody trail marked the horse's path inside the store. A pool of blood inside and outside the window led to bloody hoof prints through the store and finally back outside, where the animal lay on the pavement in another pool of blood. Store owner Irving Velez said he had trouble believing the horse was there in his store, stuck in the window.

"I didn't believe it -- half a horse inside our store," he said.

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