MEGGETT, S.C. (WCIV) -- A pardoned pig that was part of a marketing campaign for Piggly Wiggly stores and living out her life at a nonprofit animal rescue in Meggett was shot and killed by a driver on Tuesday.
The man who killed the pig was cited for malicious injury to animals and was fined $1,092. He has been scheduled a court hearing on May 1. Officers told the man to contact proper authorities if a similar situation happens in the future.
Charleston County Sheriff's deputies responded to Ethel Post Office Road in Meggett for reports of someone shooting a pig. Deputies say it happened around 5:45 p.m. April 9.
When deputies arrived, they found a crowd of people standing around an object discovered to be a brown pig, later identified as Maggie.
GALLERY: Maggie the pardoned pig
Witnesses told deputies Maggie was in and near the roadway on Ethel Post Office Road and that a passerby in a truck later identified as 26-year-old David Ashmore passed the pig in the roadway and stated out loud that he was going home to get his gun and shoot the pig.
Ashmore was heard saying "I am going to take that pig to Burbage Meats."
He confirmed that Wednesday, "I was going to take it to a processor. The way I grew up, when you shoot something, you eat it. I mean, that's the way I was raised."
He went on to tell ABCNews4 that he once had to eat crow after shooting and killing one when he was 11 years old.
Deputies say Ashmore returned shortly afterwards and shot and killed the pig with a 9mm Sig Sauer handgun. Maggie the pig was hit twice, in the upper and lower shoulder.
"Had I known it was a pet, I would have went home and got some rope and tied it to a tree," Ashmore said in a phone interview Wednesday. "I hate that I shot somebody's pet, but I did not know that it was somebody's pet at the time."
Ashmore is listed in the police report as being a quality inspector for Boeing.
Maggie's owner, Naomi Steed with LEARN Horse Rescue, responded to the scene and advised deputies that the pig had escaped from its pen. Ashmore told deputies he shot the pig to keep it from wandering around the roadway and causing a major accident.
Cynthia Deaton, the executive assistant at LEARN, said the property sits on about 100 acres where the animals there roam freely. She said on the Tuesday, Maggie and Peaches went for a roll in the mud and were seeking shade to get out of the heat.
"She wasn't being a nuisance. Some folks down the road caught Peaches, our other pig and was able to put her in the back yard. And, they were trying to get Maggie until they contacted us and there was nobody here," said Deaton. "She was just like a pet dog. Just 800 pounds. I mean, she would run around and eat. She was just a part of the family."
Responding deputies told the pig's owner that she was partially at fault for letting the animal escape its pen but that Ashmore was also at fault for a 'possible firearm discharge violation."
"I don't understand it. I still can't wrap my mind over the fact that someone would just shoot her, because she was so friendly. he said she came back over and she didn't run far probably because she never knew a human to be mean to her. Ever. At all," she said.
Deaton said Peaches knows something happened to Maggie, adding that the atmosphere on the farm is different now that Maggie is dead.
LEARN posted an update on its Facebook page about Maggie.
"It is with great sorrow that I post the killing of our beloved Maggie Pig. She and her buddy Peaches broke a board off of their pig palace and wandered over to the neighbor's yards. The neighbors took pictures of our piggy princesses and sent someone over to notify us. We were at the other farm so they locked Peaches in a yard and went to get our Maggie," the update reads.
The update says employees and neighbors of the farm are furious, adding that Ashmore said the pig was going to be taken to slaughter and processing.
"Charleston County Animal Control will be handling this matter and we hope they provide justice for sweet Maggie. She was Pardoned by Piggly Wiggly 3 years ago and sent here to live a long, happy life. The thoughtless act of a heartless young man ended that life much too soon," the update states. "Surely all pigs go to heaven, especially our girl Maggie."
The incident is currently being investigated by Animal Control Deputies.
While initial reports from the Charleston County Sheriff's Office said that Maggie was used as a mascot for Piggly Wiggly, they were later told by the grocery chain that Maggie was only used once in a campaign they were part of in 2011.
Piggly Wiggly offered its condolences in a tweet on Wednesday afternoon, saying "We are sad to hear about the loss of Maggie Pig, our pardoned pig. Thanks to the folks at L.E.A.R.N. who helped provide a great life for her."
"You never think your pigs are going to be taken this way. For Maggie to be brutally murdered in the way that she was, it's not something that you can swallow -- we just want justice. She wasn't a human being but she was not causing any nuisance," Deaton said. "Justice will be served. one way or another."