Police dog dies saving lives of colleagues on Christmas Eve
While Christmas often brings people together, giving us stories of kindness and humanity at the end of a year that's often full of the opposite - there are some who don't have a good time over the holiday period. For some, it can even be a time where tragedy strikes.
Outside a South Florida shopping mall on Christmas Eve, a shootout took place between police officers and suspects who reportedly wanted for attempted murder and armed robbery. As shoppers hid underneath tables in the Wellington Green Mall, K-9 officer Cigo pursued one suspect, and was shot dead on the scene. Officers then returned fire, wounding the suspect, who is now hospitalised.
The mall was shut down for several hours for the investigation, and shoppers at the mall were interviewed. One shopper, Carlos Hernandez, was in Macy’s when he heard two shots “loud and clear,” before helping others to hide in a closet. “It was unexpected, especially at the mall,” he told The Post. “It was a little scary for me.”
Police had entered the mall around 5pm on Monday after getting a tip that a member of the Latin Kings gang was present. They secured an area of the parking lot outside the mall and waited for them to exit. The suspect reportedly met up with two others there - one of whom was the suspect in an attempted murder that happened a couple of weeks ago.
“He turned, shot the dog, the dog was still able make it to him,” Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said of the three-year-old dog. “In the meantime, he’s firing back at the deputies.” The Sheriff's Office shared a message in tribute to the dog, writing that "he's a good boy and will never be forgotten".
They also shared a heartbreaking video of Cigo's handler, who was understandably emotional following the news that the dog had passed away.
The video, in which he can be seen hugging colleagues who were there to comfort him, caused an influx of messages of condolence online.
"Nothing can help heal your sorrow, except time," one wrote. "I love seeing this kinda brotherhood, but not for this reason." Another added: "As a dog lover and a Law Enforcement supporter I'm watching this with tears streaming down my face. I'm so very sorry."
"Praying for peace and comfort for #K9Cigo's partner, I can't imagine the pain he is feeling tonight," another commented. "Rest In Peace Cigo you are a #Hero and your wings will be mighty. God Bless."
The man Cigo was chasing when he was shot has not been identified yet, and is still recovering in hospital. Bradshaw said in a statement:
"He is not deceased yet. He is pretty well wounded. The dog is deceased, but he did his job. Saved those deputies' lives. We got two very dangerous people off the street. Unfortunately it took the life of one of our dogs.”
Rest in Peace, Cigo.