FISHERS, Ind. – A K9 officer with the Fishers Police Department was shot and killed while tracking two suspects involved in a car chase overnight.
Police were originally called about a drunk driver on I-69 around 12 a.m. Officers tried to stop the car, but the driver kept going.
The car stopped on Olio Road and two people in the car got out and ran from police.
During a press conference, Chief Ed Gebhart said a K9 unit was called to the scene to track the suspects.
K9 officer Harlej was tracking them off-lead when officers heard what sounded like a gunshot.
Officers apprehended both of the suspects and took them into custody. Later on in the same wooded area police found K9 Harlej. He was dead.
Richard Garrett Jr. and Rashaana Farrow, both 19, face preliminary charges in the case.
Garrett was preliminarily charged with striking a law enforcement animal, criminal recklessness, resisting law enforcement with a vehicle, theft, residential entry, possession of marijuana, unauthorized entry into a vehicle and possession of a handgun without a license. Farrow faces a preliminary charge of false informing in addition to having outstanding warrants. Both are being held in the Hamilton County Jail.
Harlej was 5 years old. Officer Jarred Koopman was his handler since he joined the department in 2015.
“It is my belief he saved lives last night, and we’re thankful for his sacrifice,” Gebhart said.
Police say they will hold a memorial service for Harlej, and they will share more details with us in the near future. Also, anyone who wants to make a donation in honor of Harlej can do so by donating to the Fishers Police Foundation.
Residents of Fishers are remembering Harlej as well. Officer Koopman and Harlej showed up at the Waugh family's home for their son Noah's fourth birthday. The boy wants to be a police officer when he grows up, and has a love for all first responder vehicles.
”You just don’t expect it," said Noah's mother Sherrie Waugh, "It's hard to hear, but hopefully Harley was doing what he’s here to do.”