Gunman wounds Utah K9, police say; officers shoot suspect

A Utah police dog is recovering after she was shot in the head by a man holed up in a stolen car, authorities said Wednesday.

Tess, a 7-year-old Belgian Malinois, was flown to Las Vegas for treatment and officers stopped traffic so the helicopter could land in front of a clinic, police said. The suspect was hospitalized after being shot multiple times by police in southern Utah’s Washington County. His name and condition were not immediately released.

“The sad truth of the matter is Tess took a bullet so one of our officers didn’t have to,” said sheriff’s Lt. David Crouse.

The incident started with a man who was reported to be causing a disturbance Tuesday night in St. George, about 300 miles south of Salt Lake City. When police were on their way, he attacked a man and stole his truck with an assault rifle and ammunition inside, Crouse said.

The suspect sped off, but soon ditched the truck. Police caught up with him after he stole a second truck and crashed into a house in nearby Santa Clara.

When officers arrived, he was still in the cab of the truck. Officers sent in the dog, and Tess jumped into the cab after the man opened the door. The suspect opened fire almost immediately, hitting her in the head, police said. The bullet entered her mouth and exited near her neck.

Officers then fired their own weapons, hitting the suspect several times.

The dog was taken a local veterinarian who stopped the bleeding.

She stayed there overnight, with police canine handlers from several agencies taking shifts to stay by her side.

But veterinarians knew she needed more sophisticated equipment if she was going to recover and officers reached out to the Las Vegas Police canine unit. They shut down a busy intersection so a medical helicopter could land in front of the clinic.

With the treatment she got there, the dog is expected to make a full recovery in six weeks.