Washington Co. sheriff’s K-9 wounded in shootout; flown to Las Vegas vet clinic for emergency surgery

Tess. Photo: Las Vegas Police Department/Twitter

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Utah, Aug. 30, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — A Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy K-9 and a suspect were injured Tuesday night during a shootout near St. George, officials said.

The Washington County Critical Incident Task Force (CITF) was deployed to investigate an officer-involved shooting that occurred at about 11 p.m. in Santa Clara, according to a news release from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

Police were dispatched at 9:56 p.m. to the area of 400 N. Bluff St. in St. George where a man was reportedly causing a disturbance.

“While police were en route, the suspect reportedly physically assaulted a citizen and stole his truck,” the news release said. “The owner of the truck told police that there was an assault rifle and ammunition in the truck.

“Investigators believe that the suspect abandoned the first stolen truck and allegedly stole a second truck. The St. George Police Department spotted the second truck and initiated a pursuit, but the pursuit was abandoned for public safety.”

A few minutes later, a truck was reported to have crashed into a residence in the area of 2500 Santa Clara Dr. Police from multiple agencies responded to the crash scene in Santa Clara, and found the suspect sitting in the driver’s seat of the truck. Police attempted to talk the suspect into surrendering.

While negotiations were underway, Washington County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Officer Tess, a 7-year-old female Malinois, arrived at the scene.

“After about 30 minutes, the suspect opened the door of the truck,” the news release goes on. “The K-9 jumped into the cab. Almost immediately, the suspect fired shots from a handgun, striking the K-9 in the head.”

Police officers from the Santa Clara Police Department, St. George Police Department and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office fired their duty weapons at the suspect. The suspect was struck multiple times.

The suspect was taken into custody and transported to Dixie Regional Medical Center for surgery; at this time his condition is unknown.

K-9 Tess was transported to a veterinarian in Washington County for initial surgery. Tess is being transferred to a veterinary specialist in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Later Wednesday afternoon, the WCSO said in a second news release: At approximately 3 p.m., K-9 Tess was released from the Las Vegas Veterinary Specialty Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The vet reported that Tess was likely shot two times while trying to apprehend a car jacking suspect last night.   Tess is headed home with her handler and family where she is predicted to make a full recovery in 6 weeks time.

The Sheriff’s Office would like to again extend their deepest thanks to all the first responders and veterinary staff who took part in Tess’ treatment and recovery.  This was undoubtedly a team effort and each individual played a critical part in her survival.  Tess’ handler brought her to safety as soon a possible putting himself in immediate danger.  He then rendered medical aid to her while Ivins Medical immediately transported them via ambulance to the local emergency veterinary clinic.  During the night, K-9 handlers from local agencies responded from their homes to be by Tess and her handler.  IHC’s Life Flight agreed to emergency transport Tess to Las Vegas for emergency treatment.  We reached out to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department to determine the fastest route to get Tess out of the airport and to the Veterinary Clinic.  LVMPD then offered to shut down a busy intersection in order to facilitate an immediate transfer of Tess for treatment.  The collaboration of all involved played an integral part is Tess’ survival.  Again we say thank you!

No other officers were injured in the incident.

The investigation is ongoing, and officers from multiple agencies are working on the case. The Critical Incident Task Force investigation has two focuses; one team of officers will conduct a criminal investigation of the suspect’s actions. Another team will investigate the officers’ use of force. The Task Force is composed of officers from multiple agencies under the direction of the Washington County Attorney’s Office.

Gephardt Daily will have more on this developing story as information becomes available.

Tess. Photo: Las Vegas Police Department/Twitter

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