A 36-year-old Hemet man was identified Friday as the person who deputies fatally gunned down after he allegedly shot and killed a police K-9 two days prior, according to Riverside County Sheriff’s Department officials.
Deputies searched a property Wednesday in the 40200 block of Clark Drive in Hemet (map) after receiving reports that a wanted felon was in the area when Sultan, a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois-German shepherd mix, led them to a crawl space underneath a home.
Once Sultan entered the crawl space an “indistinguishable” noise was heard and the dog returned with a gunshot wound to his neck, Sheriff's Department officials said at the time.
The K-9 later died at a veterinarian hospital.
After an hourslong standoff, SWAT personnel deployed tear gas and 36-year-old Todd Allen Hodge allegedly emerged from underneath the home with a handgun.
Hodge was then shot and killed by deputies, the Sheriff’s Department stated at the time.
More information regarding his possible criminal record was not immediately available.
Following the K-9's death, authorities and local residents shared their distress.
“Even though he is a dog, he’s a peace officer. It hits home because it could have been one of the deputies,” said San Jacinto resident Maritza San Nicolas. “He took a bullet for one of the deputies.”
The Sheriff's Department stated on Facebook Thursday that they were mourning Sultan's death and thanked "everyone for the overwhelming support during this time."
"To us, it's not just a dog. They are a partner. They are somebody who is with us for 10 hours a day, and up to 50 hours a week," Sheriff's Department Chief Jeff Raya said.
Mayor pro-tem Scott Miller echoed their sentiments.
"This has been a huge loss for us, our city and our people," he said.
Sultan joined the San Jacinto Police Department in November 2013 and was partnered with Deputy Mark Wallace, according to a San Jacinto city website.
He was originally from Slovakia and later "trained to locate hidden articles of evidence and to apprehend dangerous suspects," the website stated.
In accordance with Sheriff’s Department policy, the deputies involved in the shooting were expected to be placed on administrative leave, authorities said at the time.