Butte County, CA – Sutter County Sheriff’s Office K9 Bandit died in the line of duty on Thursday, when officers opened fire on an escaped parolee while the canine was attempting to apprehend him.
The incident began at approximately 11 a.m., when police received a report that a “suspicious” man had been living in a vehicle in the Yankee Hill Pines Hardware Store for several days, Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey told the Chico Enterprise-Record.
A Butte County Sheriff’s Office sergeant responded to the area and identified the man as 48-year-old GD Hendrix, who was wanted for escaping from parole.
Additional officers arrived at the scene, but Hendrix refused to comply with their commands to exit his vehicle.
“You guys should have let me alone,” he yelled at the officers, according to the Daily Mail. “I’m not going back.”
The suspect then backed his vehicle towards the officers before accelerating forward and crashing into another vehicle in the parking lot, Ramsey told the Chico Enterprise-Record.
He then sped away, leading officers on a pursuit down Highway 70 towards Oroville.
Police later flattened Hendrix’s tires using a spike strip, but the suspect continued driving for approximately a half mile before he brought the car to a stop.
The officers swarmed his vehicle and ordered him to get out, but Hendrix refused to take his right hand out of his coat pocket once he stepped out.
K9 Bandit was released just as Hendrix began to “rapidly advance” towards the officers, Ramsey said.
Hendrix then removed a “metallic object” from his pocket and pointed it at the officers, the Daily Mail reported.
Six of them opened fire, striking both Hendrix and K9 Bandit, who was latched onto the suspect.
Although he was mortally wounded, K9 Bandit refused to let go of Hendrix.
The suspect’s pit bull suddenly emerged from his vehicle and began attacking K9 Bandit, at which point a seventh officer opened fire, killing Hendrix’s dog.
K9 Bandit also succumbed to his gunshot wounds.
Hendrix was shot in the torso and head, and died at the scene, the Chico Enterprise-Record reported.
In 2014, he was named as a person-of-interest in the double homicide of Peter and Olga Kroencke.
Although he was not charged in connection to the Kroencke’s shooting deaths, investigators located firearms, drugs, and an explosive device in his home during the course of their investigation.
Hendrix was sentenced to prison for weapons and drug offenses, but was granted parole in May.
By July, he had absconded from supervision.
K9 Bandit, a 4-year-old Belgian Malinois, joined the Sutter County Sheriff’s Office in January of 2017, the Appeal-Democrat reported.
He served alongside his partner, Sutter County Sheriff’s Office Deputy John Lopez.
“Our focus at present is on the well-being of the handler and family,” Sutter County Undersheriff Jeff Pierce told the Appeal-Democrat.
“Being a former K-9 handler, I can understand the emotions the family is going through. It has been a very sad week,” he said. “Now we are experiencing the loss of our canine officer, Bandit, who loved his job.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Sutter County Sheriff's Office and Deputy John Lopez in the loss of K9 Bandit.
Rest easy, hero. Your life mattered.