CROUCH MESA — A two-year-old Pomeranian tottered twice and fell dead after he was hit by a bullet fired from a tan F-150 pickup in an odd drive-by shooting Thursday afternoon near Crouch Mesa.

Estevan Quintana was walking the dog, named Samson, and two other dogs off the leash on the side of County Road 3183 at 12:49 p.m. Thursday, according to police, when he heard the truck churning up the dirt road. The dogs turned their heads, Quintana said, but it was too late.

Quintana was walking farther from the road than the dogs, but he saw the rifle and heard a shot. Then he heard the whimper and saw the blood.

"He was thinking maybe he would be next," said Julie Ortiz, translating for her Spanish-speaking father-in-law.

It was an hour after and he stood with his wife and daughter-in-law outside Ortiz's single-wide mobile home. There were many cars, and a Bible study was going on inside. The three took turns looking several hundred yards up the scraggly mesa to where Samson's body lay in the snow.

"It's messed up," Ortiz said.

Quintana said he had been walking the dogs on the mesa, as he had done for the past several weeks while visiting Oritz. He and his wife had traveled from their home in Denver, Colo. As the truck drove by, Quintana said, he saw two white men inside. The passenger fired from the window.

The bullet entered the yellow Pomeranian's right hip and exited his stomach. The little dog tried to walk. But he couldn't for long. It was a big bullet, said Sara Acosta, Quintana's wife, and it tore a big hole.

At the end of Ortiz's mobile home, the two other dogs barked behind a cage.

San Juan County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Devon Dollar said maybe the two men were driving to shoot in the hills, but he doesn't really know.

Identifying them is unlikely, too, he said. Police only know they were two white men, likely in their 30s, and they drove the big two-door pickup truck with a license plate Quintana could not catch. Dollar said no casing could be found.

"Other than that, we don't have a whole lot to go off," Dollar said.

The two men face a charge of cruelty to animals, he said. They would face a felony charge, too, he said, for shooting from a truck, but the shooter would have to have seen Quintana and fired in his direction when he chose to kill the little dog.

But Quintana told police he did not believe the man saw him when he fired, Dollar said.

"We could definitely use the public's help in trying to identify these people," he said.

Before her children get home, Ortiz said she will bury her dog, because they don't need to see it.

But she said she was wondering how she would explain to her kids what happened, because she doesn't understand it herself.

"He (Samson) was walking in and out of the trees but close enough to the road that this guy just shot my dog," she said. "They could have shot my father-in-law."

Dan Schwartz covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606 and dschwartz@daily-times.com. Follow him @dtdschwartz on Twitter.