Arizona K-9 police officer killed by fleeing suspect: 'We lost a brother last night'

An Arizona police K-9 was fatally shot while trying to catch a fleeing suspect who was later found dead, authorities said.

Investigators were trying to nab Joe Ruelas, a 38-year-old man wanted for aggravated assault, around 5:20 p.m. on Friday when he apparently tried making a run for it.

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A K-9 with the El Mirage Police Department, named Koki, was unleashed and tried to capture Ruelas on foot, KSAZ-TV reported. But during the pursuit, Ruelas shot Koki, officials said.

Koki, a K-9 officer with the El Mirage Police Department, was shot and killed while trying to catch a fleeing suspect on Friday night, the police chief said. 

Koki, a K-9 officer with the El Mirage Police Department, was shot and killed while trying to catch a fleeing suspect on Friday night, the police chief said. 

Two police officers fired back at Ruelas, who ran out of sight. He was later found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to police.

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Paul Marzocca, police chief in El Mirage, said the beloved K-9 was "killed in the line of duty tonight protecting other officers from harm."

"The loss of Koki is no different than the loss of a Police Officer," Marzocca said in the statement. "Today the El Mirage Police Department mourns Koki, we lost a brother last night."

Marzocca wrote on Facebook Friday night "the community is safe and the suspect is no longer a threat," and thanked the various officers and fellow agencies "that gave their many resources to help us tonight."

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Koki, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, served with the El Mirage Police Department for four years.