A police dog in Utah was critically wounded Monday during an incident in which a suspect was shot and killed after he allegedly threatened officers, drove his car toward them, crashed into another vehicle and entered a home.
K-9 officer Riko, a 5-year-old Belgian Malinois-German shepherd mix, was stabbed in the neck and had to be transported to Las Vegas for emergency medical care, according to a press release from police in Hurricane, Utah.
Deputies in Hurricane were sent to the Hurricane Cemetery area Monday to investigate a report of a man who claimed to be receiving threats, according to authorities.
The suspect has since been identified as 46-year-old Jose Palacios Pascacio, a Hurricane resident.
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When police located Pascacio, he reportedly began yelling at the officers in Spanish and then drove his car toward them. Pascacio then fled, prompting a brief pursuit that was quickly terminated due to safety concerns.
Officers said they observed Pascacio driving in a peculiar manner, characterized by very slow and erratic movements and several sudden U-turns.
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Pascacio caused a traffic accident with another passing motorist, resulting in significant damage to both vehicles, police said. After causing the accident, the suspect's vehicle reportedly went off the road and came to a stop. When officers inspected the vehicle, Pascacio was gone.
"A short time later, we had gotten a call from this neighborhood here — the 2460 West 250 North area in Hurricane — from a family stating that an older mid-40s Hispanic gentleman only speaking Spanish had just walked into their home," said Officer Dan Raddatz with the Hurricane City Police Department, according to local affiliate Fox 13.
When officers entered the home, they fired shots at the suspect, but K-9 officer Riko was critically injured after being stabbed.
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Riko's condition was updated to stable Tuesday.
"Riko is a good dog, especially to his K-9 handler and his family," Raddatz said. "Our prayers are with them as this is an incredibly difficult thing."
The officer-involved shooting, which involved officers from the Hurricane City Police Department and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, is being investigated by the Washington County Critical Incident Task Force.
"We send our condolences to the family of the deceased. And our hearts and prayers are currently with our K-9 that was injured and his partner and family as we all are hoping for the best possible outcome," the task force said.
"We wish to thank the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Utah Highway Patrol, Hurricane Valley Fire District, the many agencies represented on the Critical Incident Task Force and especially our Hurricane City Police officers for protecting our community to the best of their abilities."