Bartholomew County, IN – Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) K9 Diesel was killed in the line of duty on Saturday while pursuing a suspect into a wooded area.
The incident began after BCSO deputies responded to a report of a domestic battery on Nov. 14 and discovered the suspect had fled prior to their arrival, Bartholomew County Sheriff Matt Myers said in a press release.
Deputies spotted the suspect in the area of CR 650 West and CR 600 South at approximately 4:20 p.m., WXIN reported.
The BCSO later identified him as 36-year-old Michael Stephens.
Stephens fled from the deputies and headed into a wooded area alongside Interstate 65, according to Sheriff Myers.
K9 Diesel, a six-year-old German shepherd, was released to apprehend the fleeing suspect and disappeared into the woods.
His handler was unable to follow after him because he had to remain with two individuals who were inside a vehicle, Sheriff Myers said.
K9 Diesel’s body was later found lying alongside the interstate.
“At this time, it is not known for sure how he was killed,” Sheriff Myers said on the night of K9 Diesel’s death. “The investigation continues.”
Deputies located Stephens hiding in a ditch and arrested him on two warrants for outstanding domestic battery I the presence of a child less than 16 years old, WXIN reported.
He was also charged with additional offenses of cruelty to a law enforcement animal, strangulation, intimidation, domestic battery, and resisting law enforcement.
The victim of the domestic assault was transported to the hospital to be treated for her injuries, Sheriff Myers said.
K9 Diesel’s body was transported to BCSO, where his handler and family were given time to be with him.
Sheriff Myers announced on Tuesday that preliminary findings from a necropsy indicated K9 Diesel likely died from being hit by a vehicle.
“I am absolutely heartbroken,” said the sheriff, who was quarantined at home battling COVID-19 when the incident occurred. “I need to be with my deputies.”
BCSO held a memorial procession in K9 Diesel’s honor on Tuesday.
We are saddened of learning the loss of Bartholomew County Sheriffs Dept, K9 Diesel in the line of duty tonight. You served your community well buddy. You will be missed. pic.twitter.com/o3KYbjL2qc
— Whiteland Police (@WhitelandPolice) November 15, 2020
COMMUNITY IN MOURNING: For the first time we’re hearing from the Bartholomew County Sheriffs Office about the death of K9 Diesel who died Saturday.
He was found lying on I-65S after a chase with a domestic battery suspect. It’s unclear how he died.
Hear more about at 4,5, and 6 pic.twitter.com/Rzlu4fKRae
— Darius Johnson (@DariusJohnsonTV) November 16, 2020
Ofc M Bush
The Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Dept is mourning the loss of one of their own, 6yr old K9 Diesel. Diesel was killed while pursuing a fleeing suspect. He was an amazing K9 who loved his fire hose toy & his Dad. Rest easy hero.#NeverForget pic.twitter.com/yB0EzhDwYe
— K9s of Valor (@k9sofvalor) November 15, 2020
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Office in the loss of K9 Diesel.