CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. – A police K9 with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Department (SLED) was shot and killed during the search for a suspect who was wanted for shooting two people, including a deputy, according to reports.
Master Deputy James Gilbreath with the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office was shot in the head by Ernest Robert Burbage, III, 38, Wednesday evening, according to SLED. Another victim was shot earlier in the day, NBC Count on News 2 reported, but further details of the shootings were not immediately released.
More than 24 hours after the shooting began, law enforcement authorities said the SWAT team deployed a robot Thursday about 2 p.m. into a residence on Johns Island as they searched for Burbage, ABC News Channel 6 reported.
Law enforcement officials said SLED K9 Rico was deployed into the residence following the robot. Once K9 Rico entered the residence he was shot and killed by the suspect.
SLED Chief Mark Keel said, “Very shortly after he was inserted, there was a gunshot, and he was killed by Ernest Burbage.”
Burbage exited the residence and police encountered him in the side yard. A gun battle ensued and Burbage was fatally shot.
“SLED SWAT and Dorchester County deputies engaged him when he presented a firearm,” Keel said, “and he was shot and died at the scene.”
Fortunately, Deputy Gilbreath has been released from the hospital and is recovering from his wounds at home, according to SLED. However, the agency is mourning the death of K9 Rico, News Channel 6 reported.
“He joined us just over a year and he served as a member of SLED’s SWAT Team and our K9 Tracking Team during that time,” Keel said.