The LAPD's Animal Cruelty Task Force is investigating the death of a horse that witnesses found tied to a street pole in front of a Sylmar, California home April 9.
Some say the scene was so disturbing police parked their cars in front of the dead horse so children would not see it, CBS News reports with its LA affiliate.
Officials learned of the incident after somebody called in that morning.
It is unclear exactly how the animal died.
"It just appears from marks on the body of the horse and on the head of the horse, that the horse was either beat, or shot or both," LAPD Detective Eric Bixler said, according to CBS News.
"They tied the rope to the tail and tied that rope to the telephone pole and drove off with the truck or the trailer," added Detective Bixler as he described how the horse died, KNBC reports.
A veterinarian farther away in San Bernardino will determine the cause of death soon, officials say.
While uncertain about the cause of death, police say they may have better luck finding out who the suspect behind the attack may be.
"We do have information that will eventually lead to an arrest, by evidence that was left at the location," Detective Bixler explained, without divulging further details.
They add they believe the death may be a message, although they did not add what or to whom.
Still, authorities encourage people to call 213-486-0450 if they know anything about the case.
Neighbors living nearby the street pole where the horse was found expressed their shock and disgust.
The area is a popular one for horses, with several riding trails and stables nearby.
"Animals are innocent. They can't even speak to tell you they are hungry, let alone do anything to deserve this," said one unidentified witness, CBS News reports.
"It's appalling that something like that would happen, and that somebody would be that demented," horse trainer Tommy Lowe said to KNBC. He added that he had never heard of a case like this before.