Oxford, NC – Franklin County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) K9 Major died in the line of duty on Sunday while trying to apprehend an armed robbery suspect found hiding in a crawlspace, according to police.
The series of events leading up to K9 Major’s death began at approximately 3:15 p.m. on April 9, when law enforcement officers in Granville County received a report of an armed robbery involving a vehicle theft, WRAL reported.
Police said witnesses identified 21-year-old William Darius Eichelberger as the suspect.
Officers located the stolen vehicle abandoned later in the day, but Eichelberger was nowhere to be found.
The Granville County Sheriff’s Office (GCSO) received a report of a “suspicious fire” at a residence on Richard Lane near Antioch Road the next day and ended up locating the suspect in the crawl space of a home, GCSO Spokesperson Terry Hobgood told The News & Observer.
Deputies established a perimeter and contacted the FCSO’s special response team for help in searching the confined space, WRAL reported.
But as they moved in to take Eichelberger into custody, the suspect opened fire on them, fatally wounding K9 Major, according to police.
Deputies returned fire, but the gunman was not hit, WRAL reported.
None of the deputies were injured in the shootout.
Eichelberger eventually crawled out from beneath the house and surrendered.
Investigators said they recovered “an assault-style rifle” from the crawlspace after his arrest.
Hobgood said Eichelberger has been charged with 10 felonies in connection with the shootout, including assault on a law enforcement agency K9, two counts of breaking and/or entering, assault on law enforcement officers with a firearm, possession of a stolen firearm, larceny after breaking and entering, possession of stolen property, robbery with a dangerous weapon, and larceny of a motor vehicle, The News & Observer reported.
His bail was set at $1 million.
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations is handling the ongoing investigation into the incident, The News & Observer reported.
K9 Major, a male German shepherd, served the FCSO for three years, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
RIP. North Carolina K9 Major was murdered when he was shot and killed while attempting the apprehension of an armed carjacking suspect. STOP SHOOTING MY POLICE OFFICERS!!! #rip #hero #murdered #endofwatch #K9Major #FranklinCountySheriffsOffice #k9 #thinblueline #bluelivesmatter pic.twitter.com/DoDlloSBM5
— Protecting the Blue (@protectingblue) April 11, 2022
Our hearts go out to Corporal Lariviere and the entire Franklin County Sheriff's Office on the loss of K-9 Major this weekend during the apprehension of an armed robbery suspect. The FCSO is an integral public safety partner here, and K-9 Major will definitely be missed. 💙🐾💙 pic.twitter.com/qtFQkdYsew
— N.C. State Fair (@NCStateFair) April 11, 2022
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office in the loss of K9 Major.