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K9 officer is shot dead when a gunman opened fire into his handler’s patrol car

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Police K9 is shot dead when a gunman opens fire on his handler’s patrol car and speeds away before being killed in shootout with pursuing cops in Tennessee

  •  K9 officer Sjaak, a Belgian Malinois, was killed while on duty Tuesday afternoon
  • The K9 officer was struck three times when a gunman opened fire on his handler’s patrol car after they had just left the La Vergne Police Department  
  • Sjaak’s handler, Officer Justin Darby, pursued suspect to a residential complex
  • Other cops followed them and exchanged fire with suspect outside apartment building; fatally striking the man who cops identified as Javon Brice, 39 
  • It wasn’t until after scene was secured did Officer Darby discover his dying dog
  • Sjaak underwent emergency surgery but sadly didn’t survive the operation 
  • The K9 will be buried with full honors; a memorial service is being planned  

By Valerie Edwards For Dailymail.com

Published: | Updated:

A K9 officer was shot dead when a gunman opened fire into his handler’s patrol car before speeding away and leading Tennessee police on a short chase that ended with the suspect being killed in a shootout on Tuesday.  

According to a statement from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), La Vergne police officer Justin Darby and his Belgian Malinois K9 officer named Sjaak had just left the police station and were turning onto Murfreesboro Road when another vehicle pulled up on the passenger side and fired shots into the patrol car shortly after noon. 

Authorities said Darby pursued the driver, who was later identified by police as 39-year-old Javon Brice. Other officers also joined in on the pursuit of the suspect. 

K9 officer Sjaak (pictured), pronounced Jacques, was shot dead when a gunman opened fire on his handler’s patrol car that had just left a police station in Tennessee on Tuesday

According to a statement, La Vergne police officer Justin Darby and Sjaak were turning onto Murfreesboro Road when another vehicle pulled up on the passenger side and fired shots into the patrol car shortly after noon. Sjaak was shot while in the backseat of the car (pictured)

After the shooting, Officer Darby and other officers pursued the suspect, who was later identified as Javon Brice. Police said Brice led them to a residential complex (scene pictured) where they exchanged fire with him, fatally striking him

Police said Brice drove into a residential complex at Rutherford Point Circle where he exited his vehicle and fired at the officers who had pursued him. 

Officers returned fire as the suspect got back into his vehicle and drove further into the parking lot, striking a parked car before coming to a stop. 

During the exchange of fire, Brice was struck and suffered a gunshot wound. 

Brice was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short time later. 

Darby wasn’t injured in the shooting, but it wasn’t until after the scene had been secured that the officer discovered that his dog, Sjaak, pronounced Jacques, had suffered three gunshot wounds. 

The K9 was taken to an emergency veterinary clinic for treatment in critical condition.

According to the La Vergne Police Department, Sjaak underwent emergency surgery on Wednesday but he did not survive the operation. 

Sjaak had been with the department since 2014. 

Brice was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short time later 

A makeshift memorial began to form near where Sjaak was shot shortly after his death. A stuffed dog, a chew toy and a candle was placed on the sidewalk in memory of the beloved K9

Interim Chief Chip Davis said in a statement that the department is praying for Darby because ‘a K9 is more than just a dog to our handlers, they’re a partner’.

A makeshift memorial began to form near where Sjaak was shot shortly after his death. 

A stuffed dog, a chew toy and a candle was placed on the sidewalk in memory of the beloved K9. 

On Thursday, officers will gather at the Animal Medical Center in Murfreesboro at noon (CST) to pay respects to Sjaak. 

At 1.00pm Sjaak will be escorted to Faithful Friends Pet Memorial Services in Nashville.

‘This is a difficult time for not only Officer Darby and his family, but for our entire department,’ Davis said. 

‘Sjaak, and the other K9s, are a part of our family. We appreciate everyone who has taken time to reach out to our department in one way or another to offer their prayers and condolences.”

PIO Anne Smith said in a statement: ‘The procession route will go through La Vergne along Murfreesboro Road to give Sjaak a final ride through the city that he’s served dutifully since 2014.’

Sjaak is the first line of duty death for the La Vergne Police Department. Sjaak will be buried with full honors. A memorial service will be planned for a later date.

No other law enforcement officers were injured in the incident. 

At the request of 16th District Attorney General Jennings Jones, TBI Special Agents are investigating the circumstances surrounding the officer-involved shooting. 

The investigation is ongoing as TBI agents continue to gather evidence.

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