Volusia County, FL – An armed suspect shot two Volusia sheriff’s K9s in two separate attacks early Saturday morning, according to investigators.
The incident began at approximately 11:30 p.m. on Sept. 10, when a Lyft driver called the Volusia Sheriff’s Office (VSO) to report he’d been carjacked, the department said in a video briefing.
The driver told investigators he picked up a customer in Sanford and was driving him to a remote area of Reed Ellis Road in Osteen when the customer suddenly put a gun to his head and ordered him to get out of the white Kia Sedona minivan, the VSO said.
The gunman, later identified as 21-year-old Shedrick Singleton, then sped off with the victim’s vehicle and cell phone, leaving him on the side of the road, according to investigators.
The Lyft driver managed to flag down another motorist and called the sheriff’s office for help.
Investigators used license plate readers to track the victim’s vehicle as it moved through Deltona.
When deputies tried to stop the stolen minivan near the Deltona Gardens Apartments on Lake Osteen Road, Singleton bailed out and took off on foot into the woods, according to the sheriff.
Bodycam footage showed VSO Deputy A.J. Davis as he began searching the area with K9 Ax shortly after midnight.
As K9 Ax closed in on the suspect, gunshots rang out.
Deputy Davis pulled K9 Ax back and rushed him towards their patrol unit, where he quickly realized his partner had been shot, the video showed.
“S—t – he’s shot in the face!” Deputy Davis alerted as he loaded up the wounded K9 and rushed him to Animal Emergency Hospital Volusia in Ormond Beach.
“You’re alright, buddy,” he told K9 Ax repeatedly. “We’re gonna get that bad man. You did good boy.”
Deputy Davis’ right hand was covered in his partner’s blood by the time he arrived at the veterinary hospital.
The Daytona Beach Police Department (DBPD) ended up sending its own K9s to donate blood to help save K9 Ax’s life, the VSO said.
Meanwhile, Singleton moved further into the woods as law enforcement officers from multiple agencies swarmed the area.
VSO Areal Response Team drones and the agency’s helicopter responded, as well as a VSO SWAT team in a Bearcat armored vehicle, the department said.
Singleton emerged from the tree line at approximately 2:20 a.m. and exchanged gunfire with deputies, according to the VSO.
The suspect was hit during the shootout, as was VSO K9 Endo.
K9 Endo, who was previously awarded the VSO Medal of Valor and Purple heart after being shot in the neck during a domestic violence call in 2015, suffered gunshot wounds to his chin and paw on Saturday.
He was rushed to Veterinary Emergency Center of East Volusia in South Daytona by his handler, VSO Deputy Brett Whitson.
Deputies rendered emergency aid to Singleton before he was transported to Central Florida Regional hospital with “life-threatening injuries,” the VSO said.
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said the gunman was in “grave condition,” WKMG reported.
He faces charges of use of a deadly weapon against a police K9 and armed carjacking.
Four VSO deputies and one DeLand Police Department officer returned fire during the shootout, the VSO said.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) will handling the ongoing investigation into the officer-involved shooting.
The deputies involved in the incident have been placed on paid administrative leave, as per protocol.
Those dogs took bullets for their handlers and still had to be pulled out of the fight! Special animals who are truly part of our family. Thank God they're OK & our deputies went home safe this morning. https://t.co/L7GOvADlhZ
— Mike Chitwood (@SheriffChitwood) September 11, 2021
Sheriff Chitwood praised K9 Ax and K9 Endo for their lifesaving devotion.
“There is no doubt that K-9 Ax and K-9 Endo took bullets that were meant for my deputies,” the sheriff said in the video briefing. “If the deputies would have gone into the woods, the first person to come in contact with Singleton, without a doubt, would have been shot.”
“Without hesitation, [K9 Ax and K9 Endo] just ran right in and even after they were shot, they had to be pulled back by their handler so they can go seek and get the proper medical attention,” he added, according to WKMG.
Both K9 heroes were treated and sent home with their handlers Saturday morning, Sheriff Chitwood tweeted that afternoon.