A law enforcement dog named Cezar was shot overnight at the end of a high-speed car chase that began as a robbery in San Diego’s East County and ended in Riverside County, authorities said.
The pursuit began at about 11:15 p.m. Sunday after a deputy saw a man quickly run from a 7-Eleven in Lakeside, which had apparently just been robbed, The San Diego County Sheriff's Department said.
The deputy attempted to pull over the suspected BMW but the driver did not stop, instead leading law enforcement on a chase up Interstate 15 as they reached speeds upward of 130 mph.
As the pursuit led San Diego County Sheriff’s deputies through Carmel Valley, Escondido and other communities along I-15, the chase finally came to an end when the driver stopped at a shopping plaza in Murrieta.
There, Murrieta police said, three people inside the vehicle ran into the nearby shopping center.
At one point, it appeared the three suspects were trying to carjack another driver, so SDSO Deputy Avedesian released Cezar to stop them. As the dog ran towards the suspects, one person fired a gun and struck the dog in the leg, the sheriff's department said.
"He likely kept the suspect from getting away & possibly hurting others. Cezar did as he was trained. He protected his deputy handler, the public and our law enforcement partners," the SDSO said in a Tweet.
Cezar was rushed to VCA Veterinary Specialists in Murrieta where a surgeon removed bullet fragments from his leg, SDSP said. The canine is expected to make a full recovery, and no other officers were hurt in the response.
Following the shooting, two suspects were taken into custody, but a third fled into the shopping center, SDSO said. Law enforcement officers from several agencies worked to seal off a perimeter and find the third suspect, who was hiding in the bushes, Murietta police said.
The suspects were not identified and it's not immediately clear what charges they would be facing.