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Suspect and police dog killed in Campbell River after RCMP try to stop vehicle

Gator’s accomplishments included finding a distraught man during a snowstorm and helping in the arrest of a knife-wielding man who had robbed a store.

A suspect was shot dead and a police dog was fatally stabbed in Campbell River Thursday in an altercation that began when the RCMP tried to stop a vehicle.

The incident started just before 9 a.m. when Campbell River RCMP tried to pull over the vehicle for an outstanding warrant. When the vehicle failed to stop, a description was provided to other officers.

Soon after, the suspect vehicle was spotted in a Tim Hortons parking lot on the Island Highway. An officer who had a police dog with him boxed the vehicle in, resulting in a confrontation with the suspect.

During the confrontation, the suspect was shot and pronounced dead at the scene, and police dog Gator was fatally stabbed, RCMP said. The dog handler was treated for a knife wound.

The Independent Investigations Office of BC, which looks into police-involved incidents where there is death or serious injury, has been notified. The area was cordoned off.

BC RCMP Sgt. Chris Manseau said losing a police dog is difficult. “That’s a partner that you work with every day,” he said. “You get to know that animal. It’s very, very heartbreaking.

“It’s like losing a member.”

Gator was seven years old and had been part of the Campbell River RCMP since 2016. Deputy Commissioner Dwayne McDonald, the commanding officer of the BC RCMP, said Gator’s death brings “great sadness.”

He said Gator’s accomplishments included finding a distraught man during a snowstorm and helping in the arrest of a knife-wielding man who had robbed a store.

McDonald said police dogs play an important role on a daily basis and also serve as community ambassadors.

Insp. Jeff Preston, officer in charge of the Campbell River RCMP, said Gator’s death has affected the detachment.

“The loss of Campbell River’s police dog Gator is something I never thought I would have to endure,” he said. “The importance of the role he played in keeping our community safe will never be forgotten.”

Details about the suspect were not released.

jbell@timescolonist.com