A 19-year-old man is being held without bond following the deadly shooting of a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office K-9 on Christmas Eve at a Florida mall, jail records show.
Justin Vazquez, who was one of two suspects in the shooting that happened in the parking lot of The Mall at Wellington Green, pleaded not guilty Friday.
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Police say the shootout happened as police tried to arrest Vazquez, who was already wanted on a murder charge, along with Giovany Ramos Alvarez, known to be a member of the Latin Kings gang, who police say was also an accomplice in that crime.
Vazquez surrendered to police. However Alvarez ran away and opened fire on Cigo, the German shepherd, who chased the man on the run, officials said.
Deputies returned fire and hit Alvarez, who was initially in critical condition but improved to stable condition, the department said.
Cigo was taken to a nearby animal hospital, where he died of his injuries.
During the chase, panicked people in the mall’s food court hid under tables and ducked behind fast-food counters. The mall was shut down for several hours for the investigation.
“He gave his life to save others. He’s a good boy and he will never be forgotten. Rest In Peace #K9Cigo,” the department tweeted Christmas Day.
Cigo was taken to Palm West Funeral Home on Friday where he will remain until his memorial service on Jan. 10 at the Coral Sky Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach.