Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Richland County deputies say a family dog killed by gunfire may have saved a little boy's life.

Officers say on August 5 at 6 a.m., they got a call that shots had been fired outside a home on Miriam Avenue in Columbia. Investigators say unknown suspects fired several shots at the home and a car parked out front.

Nine people were inside the home at the time, ranging in age from three years old to 48 years old.

Officers say one of the bullets struck and killed a dog inside. However, the dog was sitting beside a 9-year-old boy, and investigators believe the dog getting struck by the bullet meant that the boy didn't get hit by gunfire.

Sheriff Leon Lott says this doesn't appear to be a random act of violence.

Anyone with information in this case should call Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.