A Thurston County Sheriff’s Office K9 and an armed suspect were shot Wednesday night near the Thurston-Lewis county line during a vehicle pursuit, which started in Tumwater and came to an end at milepost 88 on Interstate 5 at Grand Mound.
Both the suspect, a 25-year-old male, and the K-9 suffered “survivable injuries,” according to information released Thursday from the sheriff’s office.
The Mason County Sheriff’s Office is expected to lead an investigation into the officer-involved shooting. It was not immediately clear who fired shots.
The K9 shot is a 3-year-old German Shepherd named Arlo. The law dog first hit the streets with deputies in 2019 and is the unit’s youngest K9.
A GoFundMe campaign that has since closed was set up to cover Arlo’s surgery, and it ultimately raised $57,360 of its $25,000 goal, with contributions coming from more than 1,200 individuals. Funds contributed are expected to go to the Thurston County Deputy Sheriff’s Foundation.
The pursuit reportedly started around 8 p.m. near Cleveland Avenue and Hartman Court Southeast in Tumwater, according to Thurston County. Deputies attempted to make contact with a vehicle that was driving reckless when the driver fled.
According to the Washington State Patrol, Thurston County deputies requested assistance with a vehicle that entered I-5 shortly after that time. The chase lasted about 15 minutes.
The pursuit led onto the interstate, with law enforcement officers shutting down lanes shortly after the incident.
“The subsequent contact with the driver resulted in an officer involved shooting, during which the 25-year-old male driver and TCSO K-9 were struck by gunfire,” a news release from Thurston County Sheriff’s Office read.
The suspect hasn’t been identified by the sheriff’s office.
Arlo sustained a bullet to a shoulder and right-rear leg and was initially taken to a veterinary clinic in Chehalis. After receiving surgery on Thursday, he was transferred to Oregon State University School of Medicine by Lacey Fire Department to operate on a bullet that was lodged in his spine.
“Currently, the extent of Arlo’s known injuries are a fractured vertebrae and a fractured scapula, resulting from the incident last night,” a Facebook update from the K9 unit read Thursday night. “We have confidence that through the skilled hands and knowledge of Arlo’s care team that he is getting the best care possible.”
On Friday, the sheriff’s office provided another update through its K9 unit Facebook page.
“K-9 Arlo was in good hands throughout the night and was being consoled and in the company of Deputy Turpin (his handler) and Deputy Shenkel (retired handler of K-9 Daro),” the sheriff’s office wrote. “Arlo was scheduled for surgery this morning, but his temp spiked up to 104 degrees, so they are going to get that under control first before they operate. Please keep Arlo and Deputy Turpin in your thoughts and prayers!”
Mason County Chief Deputy Jason Dracobly in a Friday morning email said there was currently no update on the suspect, who was sent to an area hospital after the incident.
Arlo and his handler, Deputy Tyler Turpin, joined the ranks of the K9 unit in late 2019 after an extensive training and outfitting process. The unit originally got the OK to start accepting community donations and begin the process of acquiring a new dog in April 2019.
The process was lengthy and expensive, costing roughly $26,000 to get the dog outfitted with the dog undergoing 400 hours of training. Outfitting, training and the health care of Thurston County’s K9 unit is covered almost entirely by community donations and is not covered by county tax dollars.
Sgt. Rod Ditrich, team lead for the K9 program, said in a previous story with The Chronicle that they had high hopes for their newest fluffy phenom: “For him, it’s just a game,” he said. “(But) this dog is going to be one of the best dogs we’ve had.”
In addition to possessing the skills the K9 unit was looking for in a new dog, Arlo is also very playful with kids and those he met out in the community.
“When you meet him, he’s the nicest dog. He’s the happiest, easy-going dog that you’ll meet,” Turpin said in December 2019. “To me, seeing how he works and how he interacts with people, he’s the perfect police dog because he loves kids, he likes people, but when it’s time to do the job, he does the job… He’s a gentle giant, is the lack of better terminology, is what I would call him.”