TUCSON - The Tucson Police department is investigating a midtown carjacking that turned deadly Wednesday night.
Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor says officers responded to a carjacking near Speedway and Country Club about 11 p.m. and officers eventually chased the driver to the Sam Hughes area near Second Street and Stewart where the suspect ran from the vehicle.
A K-9 unit was involved in the pursuit. When officers saw the suspect had a weapon, they let the police dog go after him. The dog bit the suspect, who still managed to shoot and kill the police dog. Police tell News 4 the suspect then pointed the weapon at the other officers, at which point they shot and killed him.
The dog was rushed to an animal hospital where he later died.
Now, Tucson Police Department is mourning the loss of "Ivan."
They say they take it very seriously, which is evidenced by the police memorial in front of police headquarters where a police dog is included.
Chief Villasenor says the dogs become part of the officers' families.
"They are out there facing the same dangers that our human officers face on a daily basis," he says. "You think about it within the last three weeks we've had Sgt. Carpenter shot in the head we've now had a K-9 partner shot and killed. This is the danger these officers face on a nightly basis."
Neighbors in the Sam Hughes area were shocked when they saw what was going on. Jake Glazer says, "It was frightening, but it's nice to know when something happens like this that police are on their stuff."
Chief Villasenor says the suspect had prior contacts with police. "We have information he has been in the criminal justice before. We're determining if he's currently on probation or parole."
The police dog, had just been certified as a drug sniffing dog, and was responsible for a major meth bust. He says this wasn't just a service dog but a member of the police department. That's why they are wearing mourning bands over their badges.