Officers honor fallen police dog they say sacrificed himself to save SWAT team

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — It was an emotional sendoff for a local hero.

On Friday afternoon, a line of police cars escorted a fallen K-9 officer to a cemetery. A suspected car thief shot and killed Blue Thursday afternoon.

Channel 2 Gwinnett County Bureau Chief Tony Thomas was in Gwinnett County, where Gwinnett County police turned out in force to show support as Blue’s remains were brought back from a necropsy in Athens.

Police cars lined Harbins Road as 4-year-old Blue was brought to what will be his final resting place.

“We probably had well over 100 to 150 cars,” Lt. Jason Teague said. “When you have a canine like Blue that absolutely paid the ultimate price, he sacrifices himself to save those SWAT officers, that’s next level.”

Blue has been with the SWAT team for 14 months.

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“When he needed to do work, he would do work, but outside of being given that drive, he was very sociable,” Teague said.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is still investigating the shootout, which also left a suspect dead outside the Intown Suites Motel just off Indian Trail Road.

Gwinnett County police said they tried to talk to two people in a stolen car, when the couple ran. An hour later, as Blue and a SWAT team tried to find the suspects, gunfire broke out.

Police say 18-year-old Robert Samuel Craig Rusk was shot and killed in the exchange. along with Blue.

Gwinnett Police at the scene said the suspect fired first, but the GBI said Friday afternoon they haven’t found the evidence yet to prove that. Police said they found a gun near the man’s body and believe it’s the one that was used.

Investigators said they still haven’t found the woman officers said also ran from the car.