SAN JACINTO (AP) — Sheriff’s deputies fatally shot a man they believe killed a police dog during standoff at a Southern California home.
The dog was sent Wednesday afternoon to root out a felon who barricaded himself in a crawl space below a house in the Hemet area, Riverside County sheriff’s Deputy Albert Martinez said.
The dog emerged injured and later died. Martinez didn’t say how the animal was hurt.
Hours later, deputies fired tear gas into the crawl space, Sgt. Mike Manning told the newspaper. The man, whose name was not released, emerged about 11 p.m. holding a handgun and deputies opened fire, Manning said. The suspect, whose name was not released, died at the scene.
The dog, a Belgian Malinois-German shepherd mix named “Sultan,” had been on patrol since November.
The Sheriff’s Department mourned Sultan’s death.
“There is a very close bond between a K-9 and the deputy that he’s assigned to,” Manning said. “It’s more than property or a tool. It’s a heartfelt bond between the dog and the handler.”
The state Senate took the unusual step of adjourning in the police dog’s memory on Thursday.
Sultan “bravely gave his life protecting other law enforcement officers,” said Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Temecula.
Area residents were not evacuated during the standoff, but those who weren’t home when the incident began were barred from returning for several hours.
Cornerstone Christian School, just north of the incident, was ending its class schedule at 3 p.m. when school officials were asked by officers to lock down the school.
Parents, staff and the few remaining students were on campus until deputies lifted the lockdown about two hours later.