UPDATE: Suspect who fatally shot K9, barricaded self in Duluth dead, BCA says | KSTP.com

UPDATE: Suspect who fatally shot K9, barricaded self in Duluth dead, BCA says

Duluth police remained at the scene Friday morning Photo: Duluth Police Department/Twitter. Duluth police remained at the scene Friday morning

Rebecca Omastiak
Updated: February 26, 2021 06:35 PM
Created: February 26, 2021 07:27 AM

UPDATE: (5:56 p.m.) 

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension says the suspect who fatally shot a K9 and barricaded himself in Duluth for nearly 24 hours is dead. The BCA will do a follow-up investigation and release more information at another time. 

There is no ongoing threat to the community.

This is a breaking news update. Check back for more as KSTP updates this story. Be sure to refresh your page for the latest information.

Friday, Duluth police are involved in an ongoing standoff with an armed suspect and are attempting to encourage the suspect to surrender.

According to WDIO-TV, a Hubbard Broadcasting sister station, law enforcement officers used gas grenades in an effort to detain the suspect. 

The incident started when officers responded to the 2300 block of West Fourth Street at about 8:30 p.m. on a report of a "physical domestic" incident. 

Upon arrival, police reported the male suspect, who had felony warrants for his arrest, refused to surrender. 

Police said K9 Luna was sent in to apprehend the suspect, at which point, the suspect fired gunshots, which hit Luna. Officers returned fire, then set up a perimeter to contain the scene, according to the Duluth Police Department.

Police said Luna was taken to an emergency veterinary clinic, where she later died.

No officers were hurt in the incident, police said.

"The suspect continues to be dangerous, armed and uncooperative," the police department reported via social media.

The incident is ongoing and police are asking the public to stay away from the area.

In an update Friday afternoon, police said 24th Avenue West between Third and Fifth streets was temporarily closed to traffic due to the standoff.

The St. Louis County Emergency Response Team was at the scene to assist in the negotiations.

Robbin Champaigne is the president of the Northland K9 Foundation, an organization that helped raise the funds to get Luna to Duluth.

Champaigne said Luna just turned 3 years old earlier this month.

"She's beauty, and snuggles, and smart, and fierce, all at the same time. She was an amazing dog," Champaigne said. "We are all very much grieving."

This isn’t the first time the Duluth Police Department has lost a K9. Back in 2019, "Haas" was shot and killed while responding to a domestic dispute. Haas also worked with Luna’s handler, officer Aaron Haller.

"He and his family and his department are going through this a second time in just over two years. Again, we just ask for thoughts and prayers, and just rally together to support our police," Champaigne said.

Officers in St. Paul are also sharing the grief.

"It hits home for us, especially because that officer and that K9 came through our K9 school a couple of years ago, so we have that relationship. And we've had Duluth officers in our school since then, so it is personal for us," St. Paul Police K9 Unit Commander Paul Ford said. "It's like losing one of our own family. It's a good reminder, that, it didn't happen here, but it can happen anywhere. It can happen to any one of our K9 handlers and their K9 partner as well."

There are 18 K9s serving as part of St. Paul’s unit. It’s in part because they’re so versitile. They can track and locate suspects, individuals, evidence and narcotics, oftentimes, quicker than a person can. And the K9s protect their handler just as much as they protect the community.

"They can do a lot of things that will make us safer. But they're putting themselves at risk, and the community should understand that," Ford said.

Champaigne said it’s still too early to know what the Duluth Police Department’s next plans are with their K9 unit, but their foundation is always looking for any support or donations.

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