Norcross, GA – Gwinnett County Police Department (GCPD) K9 Blue was fatally shot in the line of duty while tracking an armed suspect on Sept. 10.
The five-year-old Belgian Malinois was a member of the GCPD’s SWAT team, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The fatal encounter began at approximately 1 p.m., as officers were investigating a report of gang activity in the area of Indian Trail-Lilburn Road and Willow Trail Parkway, WAGA reported.
Officers responded to the area and spotted a man and a woman standing next to a vehicle in the parking lot of the InTown Suites, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The duo went into a motel room, at which point the officers ran the vehicle’s license plate and discovered the car was stolen, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI).
Officers waited for the suspects to exit the room and approached them when they came outside.
The suspects both took off running before police were able to speak with them, the GBI said.
K9 Blue and the GCPD SWAT unit were among the officers who began searching for the suspects, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The male, later identified as 18-year-old Robert Samuel Craig Lusk, had fled into a wooded area, GCPD Corporal Collin Flynn told the paper.
“The search spanned a large area and eventually K-9 Blue detected a scent that led the officers back to the wooded area behind the lodge,” the GBI said in a statement.
As K9 Blue raced in to apprehend the suspect, Lusk pulled a gun and opened fire on the officers, according to police.
The officers returned fire, killing Lusk, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
K9 Blue was also fatally struck during the exchange of gunfire.
Police said it is still unclear whether the round that hit him was fired by Lusk or by a fellow officer, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
K9 Blue was rushed to a local veterinarian’s office, where he succumbed to his wounds, WAGA reported.
“He did what he did without hesitation, and because of what he did he saved our teammates’ lives,” GCPD Lieutenant Jason Teague said. “There is no doubt about it.”
K9 Blue served the GCPD for over one year, the department said in a statement to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
He was also the department’s first full-time SWAT K9.
Over 100 residents lined the streets during K9 Blue’s funeral procession on Sept. 14, WSB reported.
“He paid the ultimate price, he sacrificed himself to save those SWAT officers, that’s next level,” Lt. Teague told WGCL.
Our thoughts and prayers are with our @GwinnettPd brothers and sisters mourning the loss of SWAT K9 Blue, who was killed in the line of duty today as he faithfully served our community. pic.twitter.com/IJSEYK0yzw
— Gwinnett Sheriff's Office (@GwinnettSO) September 11, 2020
We would like to thank the public for the outpouring of support & encouragement over the past week. People have sent photos, letters, and thoughtful memorials for SWAT K9 Blue. He was an invaluable member of our police family & a loyal companion to his handler & the SWAT team. pic.twitter.com/SWqCYLcucm
— Gwinnett County Police (@GwinnettPd) September 18, 2020
🐾NEVER FORGET K-9 BLUE🐾: Today a hero was laid to rest. K9 Blue was killed on September 10, 2020 while assisting his SWAT team take a wanted felon into custody.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Corporal Webb and his family, the Gwinnett County Police Department. #LODD pic.twitter.com/l6LNEc65lI
— National Police Dog Foundation (@NPK9Foundation) September 16, 2020
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Gwinnett County Police Department in the loss of K9 Blue.