ST. GEORGE — A Utah police K-9 officer was shot and killed Thursday in the line of duty while attempting to apprehend a criminal suspect. The gunfight left the suspect in critical condition.
“Our hearts are heavy, as we have lost one of our own,” the Unified Police Department said in a media statement issued Thursday. “The bravery, service and sacrifice given by K-9 Aldo will never be forgotten.”
Officer Luis Lovato and his K-9 counterpart, Aldo, a 7-year-old Belgian Malinois who served as a dual-purpose patrol and narcotics dog with the Unified Police Department, were assisting officers when the gunfight occurred.
“Aldo was shot and killed last night while protecting his handler and other detectives serving a search warrant. Aldo had been in service with UPD for over 5 years, all of them spent with his trainer, partner and best friend, Officer Luis Lovato,” according to the statement.
The officers were attempting to serve an arrest warrant on David Shane Anderson, 36, at a residence located at 4303 S. 730 East in Millcreek, Unified Police said.
As officers entered the home with Aldo and began searching for Anderson, they came under fire when they encountered the suspect, and Aldo was fatally shot.
“Officer Lovato extracted Aldo to a different room and covered himself over Aldo to protect Aldo with his body armor. All officers backed out of the home after the gunfire,” UPD Chief Deputy Justin Hoyal told the Salt Lake Tribune.
No other officers were injured. Anderson, of West Jordan, was transported to the hospital in critical condition Thursday after being shot by officers. As this report is published, it was not immediately known how many shots were fired by both police and the alleged gunman.
According to Utah Court documents, Anderson has a lengthy criminal history in Utah, including several arrests for investigation of drug possession and drug distribution.
In November 2015, Anderson was charged in 3rd District Court with felony drug distribution. A warrant was issued for his arrest on April 4 after Anderson failed to show up for a hearing regarding that matter.
As news of Aldo’s death quickly spread, members of the law enforcement community took to Facebook to express their condolences, sadness and appreciation for Aldo’s sacrifice.
“Both Louis and Aldo have served with distinction and dedication,” Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder posted on Facebook. “Aldo will be terribly missed by all.”
By Friday morning, Winder said his agency has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of sympathy and support for K-9 Aldo.
“Members of this incredible community have been calling, emailing and in many instances, stopping by our offices and precincts to offer condolences,” Winder said. “There really is no way to express our collective appreciation for the support.”
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