ANGRY villagers have claimed it took 19 shots by a police marksman to kill a stray horse at Dunnington, near York.

Several residents contacted The Press to complain yesterday after North Yorkshire Police said two horses were “humanely destroyed” on Sunday after breaking loose and running wild.

Pam Frankland claimed the scene as police chased one of the horses was like “cowboys and Indians”, and she was disgusted because 19 shots had to be fired before the animal died.

Another resident said the animal should have been tranquilised or captured instead, adding: “Supposedly trained officers took 19 shots to kill it.

He said: “They may as well have machine gunned the animal. There is real cruelty and incompetence there.”

A third claimed the animal was first wounded in one leg, and then another before eventually being put down after 19 shots.

But a force spokesman, while admitting one horse “had to be shot a number of times before it fell to the ground, while the other was destroyed quickly,” denied as many as 19 shots were needed.

He said numerous methods of catching and controlling the horses were tried throughout the day, and officers received help from members of the public, farm workers and vets.

He said: “However, all attempts proved unsuccessful as the horses were very wild and would not allow themselves to be approached.”

He said every effort was made to avoid having to shoot the horses, but said: “Ultimately public safety has to be the over-riding concern of the police. We simply could not risk the very real possibility of the horses causing a serious or even fatal road traffic collision.”