LA VERGNE, Tenn. (WZTV) — The community is mourning the loss of a La Vergne Police K-9 killed after being shot three times Tuesday.
La Vergne Police Department and members public gathered at the Animal Medical Center at 234 River Rock Blvd. in Murfreesboro at noon to pay respects to K9 Sjaak. Sjaak was then escorted to Faithful Friends Pet Memorial Services at 2611 Eugenia Ave. in Nashville.
“We are encouraging everyone to line up in support of Officer Darby and Sjaak,” says PIO Anne Smith. “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.”
The La Vergne Police Department said a kind citizen placed a memorial for the fallen K-9 in front of the department's lobby.
Sjaak, a Belgian Malinois, died in emergency surgery following the deadly officer-involved shooting that prompted response from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
"Our hearts are broken," says Interim Chief Chip Davis. “Our K-9s are members of the LPD family. Sjaak was an amazing and loyal dog. We ask everyone to keep Officer Darby, his family, and all of the La Vergne officers in your thoughts and prayers as we deal with this loss.”
Sjaak had been with the police department since 2014. His handler, Officer Justin Darby, was not hurt in the shooting.
"We are overwhelmed. The last 24 hours have been difficult for not only our department but especially for Officer Darby and his family," the police department posted on Twitter. "We are so thankful for everyone who took time to offer their prayers and condolences."
TBI agents say on Tuesday the K-9 and his handler were on Murfreesboro Road near the La Vergne Police Department when a driver pulled up next to them and fired shots into their vehicle.
Authorities say the officer pursued the suspect and they exchanged gunfire. The man's vehicle crashed and police say they found him suffering from a gunshot wound. After being rushed to the hospital, the TBI says the suspect died. The TBI is continuing to investigate what happened.
Sjaak did not survive his emergency surgery Wednesday stemming from the shooting. Funeral arrangements for the K-9 have not yet been announced.