'Faithful' 5-Year-Old Police Dog Jango Shot and Killed by Suspect in California

A five-year-old police dog named Jango, described as "faithful," was shot and killed by a vehicle theft suspect Tuesday night in Bakersfield, California, who also died after officers returned fire, the Bakersfield Police Department (BPD) confirmed in a statement Wednesday.

Jango died after he accompanied Bakersfield police officers in pursuit of an unnamed male suspect in a reported stolen vehicle on Highway 58 who did not stop for officers and eventually fled the vehicle on foot to a residence on Feliz Drive.

When located, the suspect fired a weapon.

"As a police K-9 Handler and his K-9 partner approached the suspect, the suspect opened fire, striking the K-9. Two officers returned fire, striking the suspect. Medical aid was provided to the suspect, despite this, the suspect was declared deceased at the scene," a BPD statement said.

Jango Police K9
Jango, a Bakersfield Police Department dog who was shot and killed by a suspect in California on Tuesday. Unknown/Bakersfield Police Department

Jango was transported to an area emergency veterinarian hospital where he later died from his injuries.

"In his [Jango's] time with us, he faithfully served the community of Bakersfield in the field of suspect apprehension and explosive material detection," read a separate statement announcing the details of Jango's "end of watch."

A Belgian Malinois, Jango was born in the Netherlands in 2015 and responded to commands given in Czech, according to BPD. In 2017, he was united with his partner and best friend Officer Brock Mueller.

BPD Sergeant Robert Pair told Newsweek that Mueller was Jango's handler on Tuesday.

"As an organization we are still processing the death of Jango, who paid the ultimate sacrifice for his community and those he loved. We are also cognizant that a human lost their life during this deadly encounter," he said.

BPD said that the identity of the suspect who killed Jango and fired at officers will be released by the Kern County Coroner's Office.

Initially, when the suspect was pursued on the highway by authorities, he drove off the road up the highway's south embankment and into a chain-link fence that caused the vehicle to become disabled, according to BPD's statement.

After the suspect fled the reported stolen vehicle, he was located with the assistance of the Kern County Sheriff's Office's Air-1 Patrol Helicopter.

"The investigation into the loss of both human and K-9 life is ongoing. As has been the case since the deployment of body-worn cameras, footage will be released to the community as the investigation allows it," BPD said.

The department is working on memorial plans for Jango that have not yet been finalized. Its statement said that as more information becomes available, it will be released.

Jango Bakersfield Police K9
A photo of Jango, a police K9 who was shot and killed by a suspect in Bakersfield, CA on Tuesday. Unknown/Bakersfield Police Department

Facebook user Diane Mulvey wrote on the BPD's page: "My deepest condolences to Officer Brock Mueller, his family and the Bakersfield Police Department on the death of K9 Jango. Thank you, K9 Jango, for your service and sacrifice for humanity. Rest in Peace, Guardian."

Newsweek also contacted Joseph Conroy, a spokesman for the city of Bakersfield, who said some information might not be available due to the ongoing investigation.

Updated 4:12 PM ET, with comment by BPD.