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Lightning Medicine Cloud, a rare white buffalo born in 2011, and his mother were found dead at the Lakota Buffalo Ranch in Texas this week just weeks after the calf's father was fatally struck by lightning.
The rare animal, sacred to the Lakota Sioux, was about to celebrate its first birthday during a powwow on May 12.
NBC 5 has learned the calf was found mutilated and skinned on the ranch northeast of Dallas. The next day, the calf's mother was found dead as well.
Hunt County Sheriff Randy Meeks has opened a criminal investigation into the livestock deaths, although Meeks said they have not yet classified the crime. The Texas Rangers and other state agencies are assisting.
"I feel very confident we'll work together with a renewed vigilance to find whoever this is that perpetrated this heinous act," Judge John Horn said during a news conference at the ranch Friday.
Arby Little Soldier, the owner of the ranch, would not comment on the specifics of the white calf or his mother.
Lm Otero / AP
A rare white buffalo walks in a corral in Greenville, Texas, in June 2011. The calf and its mother were found dead this week.
"I will not say what has happened to this animal," he said. "I will not say what has happened to the mother. Ben, the dad that protected this calf was struck by lighting April 3 when we had the tornado when it hit Lancaster. Lightning ... struck Ben, and I seen him go down. My people, my brothers, my sisters are hurt by what has happened here on this ranch. You don't think things like this are going to happen to such a sacred animal, a sacred family."
Little Soldier said Lightning Medicine Cloud's legacy will carry on and that the powwow scheduled for May 11-12 will go on as planned -- only now, they will memorialize the rare animal as well.
"The powwow will continue on. I welcome you all to come grieve with us, mourn with us and celebrate with us," Little Soldier said. "Ecclesiastes said, 'There is a time for life and a time for death.' My little boy went on home. His mother went on home. His dad went on home. They're all together, and God bless them. This legend will go on forever."
Little Soldier said there is a reward of $5,000 leading to an arrest and capture of the person responsible for the deaths of Lighting Medicine Cloud and his mother.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Hunt County Sheriff's Department at 903-453-6800 and ask for either Sheriff Randy Meeks or Lt. Tommy Grandfield.
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