Suspect arrested in police dog killing

Photo Credit: Rob Starkey

COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Richland County Deputies say they have arrested the man accused in an early morning shooting and robbery near Monticello Road.

Deputies say Maurice McCreary, 21, shot a K-9 deputy and shot at deputies and police officers Friday morning following a robbery at Johnson's Store. McCreary was arrested shortly before 11 am on Barony Drive. Authorities say they found him hiding in a laundry shed attached to a home in the Ridgewood community. That's about a quarter-mile away from Eau Claire High School.

McCreary is charged with the unlawful killing of a police dog, five counts of attempted murder, and two counts of armed robbery.

At 2:30 Friday morning, authorities were called to the store in reference to an armed robbery. Investigators say the robbery victims told them a man showed them a gun, demanded money, then shot at the victims as he fled the area.

Once he was spotted by officers, authorities say McCreary started running. K-9 deputy Fargo was able to track him down and the suspect shot at the animal, hitting the dog multiple times. Fargo later died at an emergency veterinary clinic. A deputy was not hit in an exchange of gunfire but severely injured his knee during the chase.

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"Fargo put his life on the line for the citizens of Richland County and gave his life," said Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott. "Our police dogs are just like our deputies, they are part of this family here."

According to the Sheriff's Department website, K-9 Fargo was a Belgian Malinois acquired in 2006. K-9 Fargo was trained in narcotics detection, tracking, and criminal apprehension. Fargo was handled by Master Deputy Warren Cavanagh, who was not injured in the search.

Investigators say Fargo was not wearing a bulletproof vest, but investigators say he may have suffered a fatal wound in an area not protected by a vest.

The Richland County Sheriff TMs Department has received an outpouring of calls about raising funds or making donations to provide vests to the Richland County Sheriff TMs Department K-9 Unit. You can send your support to the Richland County Sheriff's Foundation, PO Box 1182 Columbia, South Carolina 29202.

The Heroes Vest Fund, a non-profit agency that works to raise money for custom vests for canine officers, has also received interest about financial suppport and has already set up a fund in memory of Fargo. Protective vests for K-9 officers cost roughly $2,100.

Sheriff Leon Lott says a memorial service in honor of Fargo will be held next week.