A dog breeder was shot and killed on Monday night after a planned sale of a French bulldog went wrong, police have said.
Lonnie A Ray, 76, organised to sell the dog in Bishopville, South Carolina.
Authorities described Mr Ray as “probably the best breeder” in the area.
Mr Ray had planned to meet the person with his friend – which police have said he would often do when meeting with buyers.
He had spoken to the buyer over the phone before arranging the meeting online, police said.
A transaction of $2,500 was agreed on but before that could take place, at least one person had grabbed the dog leash, pulled out a gun and started shooting in the direction of Mr Ray and his friend, Sheriff Daniel Simon said.
Police also reported that the person rushed off in a Sedan car, with the puppy in tow and three or four people inside the vehicle, according to NBC News.
When officers arrived at the scene, they saw Mr Ray on the ground with gunshot wounds.
His friend was not injured.
However, Mr Ray was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead an hour later.
Karen Hanna, the victim’s daughter, spoke about her father in a tearful interview with NBC News: “That was his life, that’s what he loved. And he had his life taken away from him.”
“Why? Why the Almighty God?” she said.
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Hoping to track down the alleged killer, deputies are looking into surveillance footage around the area and have advised the public to speak to them if they have seen anything.
Sheriff Daniel Simon said: “It’s really frustrating because you know that could be your family member next.
“You never know when you’ll want someone to speak up for someone in your family if someone do harm to them,
like Mr Ray lost his life”.
Ms Hanna, in a state of grief, asked the shooter to “turn yourself in” and to “do the right thing”.
An autopsy will take place on Friday as police search for more answers.
French Bulldogs are often the target of thefts due to their popularity which means they’re worth more than some other breeds.
Lady Gaga’s dog walker was shot when walking the star’s two Frenchies in 2021.
The dog walker, Ryan Fischer, said he had a “very close call with death”.
Lady Gaga offered a $500,000 reward – “no questions asked” – for the animals’ safe return.
The dogs, Koji and Gustav, were given back several days later.