LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - The Laurel Police Department is proud of one of it's four-legged officers after he helped catch a criminal early this morning.
Officers responded to the area of Old Bay Springs Road and Northwood Drive, an area with reports of auto burglaries in the recent months, just before 4 a.m. Wednesday after a report of two suspicious males, one with a gun.
Police Captain Tommy Cox said when officers arrived, the two suspects ran when officers tried to make contact with them. Cox said when one of the men ran behind a home, K-9 Johnny was released.
"When our officers arrived, he was reaching for a weapon and he was choking the dog," Cox said. "They were able to take him into custody without anybody being seriously injured."
Tremarius Wash, 20, was transported to the hospital with minor injuries and was later booked at the Jones County Jail. Wash faces several misdemeanor charges and one count of Injuring a Public Service Animal, which is a felony in Mississippi.
"Generally, if we release the dog, when they apprehend the subject's ready to give up and because they don't want to be bitten," said Cox. "This is the first time I remember a shot being fire and choking the dog and things such as that, so it's definitely outside the norm."
Clark Lowrey, who was woken up by the commotion in his backyard, said he was happy to hear someone who could be responsible for break-in's in the area is now behind bars.
"You get hit one time and you say 'oh well, bad luck, whatever,'" Lowrey said. "But, when you get hit a second time, you feel like prey."
Cox said the incident highlights the importance of police dogs and the service they provide to the public.
"Well, if you take the K-9 out of the equation, you have an officer approaching the guy in the backyard when a shot's fired," said Cox. "It's not an inexpensive proposition, as last night proves it was pretty worthwhile."
Right now, the Laurel Police Department has four K-9 Officers, which Cox said puts one on each shift. He said the department is thankful to countless donations from the community to help get them on the force.
"Going into the dark, four o'clock in the morning, somebody with a gun," said Cox. "We've raised money many times over the year to make sure we keep enough dogs and this is just a thank you to everybody who pitches in."
Anyone with information about the incident or another individual that may have been involved is encouraged to call LPD at 601-399-4440 or Crime Stoppers at 601-428-STOP.