A Florida sheriff’s department is mourning the loss of a K-9 officer and crediting the animal with saving officers’ lives in a shootout on Monday.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s office says the shooting left the K-9 officer dead and a suspect hospitalized after police confronted several individuals near the Wellington Green Mall in Wellington, Florida. Police say the suspects were wanted on attempted first-degree murder and armed robbery warrants.
Cigo — a 3-year-old canine — pursued a fleeing suspect, who shot the animal, police say. Police returned fire, severely wounding that suspect.
Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said Cigo “did his job and saved those deputies’ lives.”
After the dog was pronounced dead at an animal hospital, police posted several tributes on social media.
“He gave his life to save others. He’s a good boy and he will never be forgotten. Rest In Peace #K9Cigo,” one tweet reads.
In another, police comfort Cigo’s “handler/partner”: A group of solemn officers offer hugged and whispered words to the distraught man.
“The pain felt by #K9Cigo’s handler/partner is strong. Our prayers are with him tonight,” the department tweeted.
No bystanders at the mall were injured in the shooting. The confrontation occurred after undercover deputies secured an area of the mall parking lot, police say.
Contributing: The Associated Press