K-9 partner Bane, ballistic vest credited with saving Tulare police officer's life

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- We're learning more tonight about the condition of the police officer in Tulare who was shot Sunday night during a pursuit. He survived being shot twice but his K9 partner was shot and killed. Bane was pronounced dead at the scene. One suspect was also killed, a second is in critical condition. A third suspect was uninjured and is under arrest.

The identity of the officer is not being released. His K9 partner and ballistic vest are being credited with saving his life.

Bane was a year and a half- a Belgian Malinois-German Shepherd mix who although young- took a bullet that Interim Police Chief Matt Machado says likely spared the officer's life, along with the safety gear the 6-year officer was wearing.

The officer had just recently been assigned to the K-9 unit, and Bane had just started working the streets.

"The two had just recently completed a 5 week intense training course where the two had bonded tremendously. It was an intense bond and I believe the two had all the potential in the world to do great things," said Matt Machado, Interim Tulare Police Chief.

Officials say the deadly confrontation began just after 7 Sunday night. An officer attempted to make a traffic stop on the suspects car at Pleasant and Cherry- but the driver failed to pull over. Officers pursued the car until it stopped on the outskirts of town. As the K9 was sent out- shots rang out from the suspects car. So the officers returned fire.

The devastating outcome has stunned the community.

At Tulare Veterinary Hospital- Monday the hearts of those who care for many police canines were filled with sadness.

"We treat a lot of officers dogs here and they have a very special connection to be honest with you. You don't see that. I have dogs as well at home but the connection that the officers have with their dogs, it's very special and unique. It's something we love to see and it's so sad when it's ended so abruptly," said Christie Lee, Tulare Veterinary Hospital.

Veterinarian Jacob Gomez works hard to keep every dog healthy. But he also sees firsthand the unbreakable bond officers have with their dogs and the emotional toll the events like these can take on the officer. Many canines are seen more often than the average dog because of the excellent standard of health they must maintain for the highly specialized work they are trained to do.

"When it's a hometown thing, it hits you even closer. I'm born and raised here so I came back to work here. So I think it's unfortunate in regards to anytime a life is lost. But when it's a K9 life, it does stink even more. Because you wonder could you have helped it? But in this situation, I don't think much could've been done," said Dr. Jacob Gomez.

At the vet hospital- it didn't go without notice, the valiant work of Bane right until his final breath.

The officer was also shot in the hand and will require surgery. Until he has healed a bit- services for his partner have not been planned.

NEW: Suspect in Tulare Co. officer-involved shooting identified
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