A police dog in Indiana was shot dead Wednesday while hunting down a suspected drunken driver who attempted to escape police by bolting through a wooded region.
K-9 Harlej had been asked in to help officers in the manhunt for 19-year-old Richard Garrett Jr., who had run from his wheels after a brief car chase on Interstate 69, the Fishers Police Department told in a news release.
K-9 Officer Jarred Koopman, Harlej’s handler, ultimately spotted Garrett and ordered him to surrender. But Garrett declined and ran away, prompting Koopman to let Harlej off his leash to follow the suspect.
The 5-year-old Belgian Malinois, the identical breed as the army dog who served take out ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi last month, ran onward of Koopman and out of his sight. Officers then heard a gunshot and were incapable to find Harlej.
After some hours, police found Garrett with a leg wound believed to be from a dog bite, police said the Indianapolis Star. Officers then discovered Harlej dead in a wooded area. He had succumbed to a gunshot injury.
“It is my belief he saved lives last evening, and we’re grateful for his sacrifice,” Chief Ed Gebhart said of Harlej during a press conversation.
Police set up a memorial for Harlej in the department’s hall. Community members have already given a growing number of handwritten notes and pictures, the department wrote on Facebook.
Meanwhile, Garrett and Rashaana Farrow, another suspect who had waited in the car, were both taken into arrest and being held at the Hamilton County Jail.
Garrett meets 10 preceding charges, including striking a law enforcement beast, criminal recklessness and resisting law enforcement with a carrier.
Farrow, who had warrants out for her capture, faces a preliminary charge of false notifying.