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Hero Down: Bartholomew County K9 Diesel Killed While Pursuing Fugitive

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.


Our thoughts and prayers are with the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Office in the loss of K9 Diesel.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin


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