S.C. Police K-9 Fatally Shot while Serving Felony Fugitive Warrant

June 12, 2024
Coba, a Belgian Malinois mix K-9 with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, was shot and killed when a suspect opened fire at authorities while serving a warrant in the Prosperity area.

By Chris Trainor and John Monk

Source The State

A South Carolina Law Enforcement Division K9 was shot to death during an incident in Newberry County Tuesday, and an armed suspect was also shot.

SLED confirmed the death of four-year-old SLED K9 Coba, a Belgian Malinois mix who joined SLED in 2021.

SLED announced the dog’s death in a news release that said in part, “K9 Coba was killed in action today during the apprehension of an armed subject in Newberry County. During an encounter with SLED, the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office, and the subject, the subject shot SLED K9 Coba. The subject was shot and transported to the hospital for treatment.”

Koba was the second SLED police dog to die in the line of duty in the past year.

Last September, K9 Rico, a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois mix, was shot and killed by a suspect fleeing from officers on Johns Island. The suspect, Ernest Robert Burbage III, was then shot and killed by police. Burbage had shot and wounded two people, police said.

Rico had been with the agency for just over a year and served on the SLED SWAT team and K9 tracking team.

In March, in Columbia’s Rosewood neighborhood, a 17-year-old allegedly stealing from cars shot and wounded a police dog, K9 Kobe, with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, authorities said. The suspect also was shot.

Kobe has recovered and two weeks ago returned to duty, Sheriff Leon Lott said Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Newberry County Sheriff’s Office deputies and South Carolina Law Enforcement Division agents had gone to serve a felony fugitive warrant near Gravel Road in the Prosperity area, the sheriff’s office said in a post on social media.

The suspect reportedly was found hiding inside the home of a relative, the sheriff’s office said. A law enforcement dog confronted the suspect inside the home. The suspect had a gun and fired at officers, striking the dog, according to the sheriff’s office. Officers returned fire at the suspect, “eliminating the threat,” the sheriff’s office said.

The suspect was taken to an area trauma center, while the K9 was taken to an emergency veterinarian clinic. Updates on the condition of the suspect was not available as of mid Tuesday afternoon.

The suspect was not named in the sheriff’s office statement. The Lexington County Sheriff’s Department has been asked to assist in the investigation.

“Coba will be greatly missed,” the SLED press release said. “Details regarding a memorial service will be announced by SLED at the appropriate time.”

“During his career, Coba served on SLED’s SWAT Team and SLED’s K9 Tracking Team. Coba participated in numerous trainings and apprehensions that kept communities, SLED’s law enforcement partners, and his SLED SWAT Team safe,” a SLED release said.

Coba’s handler was SLED Special Agent Richard “Cole” Powell, and the K9 lived with Powell’s family, the release said.

In a memorial service for Rico last October at the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy, more than 400 law enforcement officers from around the state paid their respects. Gov. Henry McMaster and First Lady Peggy McMaster also attended.

Tuesday afternoon, McMaster posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, a tribute to Coba: “We are greatful for our K9s, their handlers, and all our law enforcement officers who put their lives at risk each and every day.”


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