A 31-YEAR-old man allegedly tied up at least three ponies before sexually assaulting and injuring them.
Michael Riego was arrested Thursday after a "length investigation" into him molesting several ponies at Carousel Park and Equestrian Center in Wilmington, Delaware, police said in a news release.
Riego, of Hartly, Kent County, has been charged with felony bestiality and felony burglary, but an investigation remains and additional charges are expected.
According to New Castle County Police, investigators spotted Riego looking into a pony's stall at approximately 12.30am Thursday.
When they confronted him, they found Riego hiding in the corner and the pony's rear legs tied up.
Riego's arrest comes after a months-long investigation after authorities started getting reports of injured ponies at Carousel Park.
Staffers at the park reportedly found ponies tied up with cords around their legs just above the hoof.
Surveillance footage from an earlier incident observed "the same male suspect retrieving a feed bucket from the barn and entering the mare’s stall," police said.
The man was unidentified at the time because his face was covered.
They added: "The suspect was observed tying up the rear legs of the mare, removing articles of clothing, and ultimately sexually assaulting the horse."
The first reported injury dates back to September 2019.
According to police, in separate incidents, a 17-year-old black and white mare was discovered to be injured, a 20-year-old mare was found with its rear legs tied up, and a 31-year-old brown mare was found to be sexually assaulted.
All of the ponies have since been treated and returned to their normal activities, according to police.
An investigation into the case is ongoing.
According to police, detectives are looking into a concern that more animals were possibly victimized.
Anyone with information relating to Riego's case is urged to contact Det. Lucas at (302) 395-8110 or call the New Castle County Division of Police non-emergency number at 302-573-2800.
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