Knightdale, NC – A longtime Wake County sheriff’s K9 was fatally shot in the line of duty early Friday morning after an officer from another department mistakenly shot him while they were tracking a suspect, according to police.
Knightdale Police Department (KPD) Chief Lawrence Capps said the incident began at approximately 12:30 a.m. on May 26, when 21-year-old Ravon Williams took off on foot into the woods during a traffic stop on North Smithfield Road, WTVD reported.
Wake County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) K9 Santos and his partner were called to the scene to search for the suspect, the sheriff’s office said in a press release later that day.
Chief Capps said that during the track, one of his officers unintentionally fired his duty weapon, striking the K9, WTVD reported.
K9 Santos was immediately rushed to North Carolina State University’s Veterinary Hospital emergency clinic, where he succumbed to his wounds, according to the WCSO.
“We want to thank the veterinarians who did everything they could to help save him,” the sheriff’s office said.
Williams was apprehended on Friday afternoon and has since been released on bond on charges of giving fictitious information to officers, resisting a public officer, and driving without a license, according to WNCN.
Chief Capps said the officer who shot K9 Santos has been on the job for about 18 months, WTVD reported.
He has been placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation.
The entire Wake County Sheriff’s Office family is heartbroken after K9 Santos was shot & killed in the line of duty.
K9 Santos and his handler were called to assist Knightdale Police with a search for a suspect around 12:30 am. While tracking, K9 Santos was fatally wounded. pic.twitter.com/QMGN29aDeB
— Wake County Sheriff's Office (@WakeSheriff) May 26, 2023
“We are truly heartbroken over this tragedy,” Chief Capps told WTVD. “All law enforcement officers understand the strong and undeniably special bond that exists between handlers and their K9 partners. The involved officer is very distraught, so I can only imagine the deep swell of grief our friends in the sheriff’s office must be feeling. We extended our sincerest apologies and deepest sympathies.”
K9 Santos joined the WCSO in 2016 and was the department’s longest-serving K9, according to the sheriff’s office.
The agency said it is “heartbroken” over the loss.
“K9 Santos, a German shepherd, was skilled in tracking and protecting his handler with a fierce determination,” the WCSO said. “He gave his life to ensure the safety of our deputies and the residents of Wake County…We thank him for his loyalty and service.”