Cleveland, TN – A Bradley County Sheriff’s K9 remained hospitalized Thursday morning after being shot multiple times by a group of fleeing burglary suspects early Wednesday.
The incident began at approximately 2 a.m. on Sept. 22, when the Cleveland Police Department (CPD) received a report of an auto burglary in progress at an apartment complex located on Harrison Pike, the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) said in a press release.
Officers responded to the scene from both sides of the apartment complex and observed a white Jeep Gladiator fleeing the area at a high rate of speed, police said.
The suspect vehicle ended up heading northbound on Georgetown Road towards I-75.
BCSO deputies spotted the Jeep near mile marker 25 a short while later and determined it had been reported as stolen out of Hamilton County, according to the press release.
When deputies tried to conduct a stop on the stolen vehicle, the occupants bailed out and took off on foot into the woods near a Toyota dealership, the CPD said.
Police said there were believed to be at least four black males in the vehicle, all of whom were considered to be armed and dangerous.
During the ensuing search, BCSO Deputy Eduardo Choate and his partner, K9 Joker, pursued the fleeing suspects into the woods.
“Upon making contact with the suspects, K9 Joker was shot multiple times,” the CPD said.
Deputy Choate was not injured in the attack.
The wounded K9 was rushed to an emergency animal hospital in Chattanooga with life-threatening injuries.
As the BCSO SWAT team and additional off-duty officers were being activated to help establish a perimeter to contain the armed suspects, police received a report that several people had stolen a 2009 Lexus from the area of Withrow Road, according to the press release.
— Caroline Corrigan (@CarolineWRCB) September 22, 2021
The vehicle was last seen heading southbound towards Chattanooga.
K9 Joker underwent surgery later on Wednesday and was listed in “semi-stable condition” afterwards, the BCSO said in a Facebook update.
Continued Prayers for Bradley County, TN K9 Deputy Joker, he was shot early Wednesday morning, he survived surgery & is in Serious but stable condition, Keep his handler Deputy Eduardo Choate in your prayers as well please. #BackTheBlue 🇺🇸🙏🇺🇸🙏🇺🇸🙏 pic.twitter.com/yc7p5Hg0Q9
— AlexD (@adwrn) September 23, 2021
Law enforcement officers swarmed a residence on Dahlia Street in Chattanooga later on Wednesday, WRCB reported.
Shinerra Benford, who lives next door, said she saw police pull about eight people out of the house.
“No, they didn’t put no struggle,” Benford said. “Them people was asleep they drove them outside in their drawers.”
Six juveniles were later charged with 15 counts of auto burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary, felony evading arrest, theft over $10,000, conspiracy to commit theft over $10,000, and attempted intentional killing of an animal.