A Long Beach police K-9 who was killed while attempting to detain a shooting suspect Tuesday morning was struck by friendly fire, authorities announced late Tuesday night.
Four-year-old Credo, a Belgian Malinois who served with the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) for two years, was fighting with the knife-wielding suspect when he was struck by officers shooting at the suspect, the LBPD stated in a release. The suspect also died from his injuries.
The incident unfolded Tuesday morning, when members of the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force, which includes the participation of Long Beach police, spotted the suspect, who was wanted in connection with a December 2014 shooting involving multiple victims in the city, authorities said.
When task force members came into contact with the suspect near 16th Street and Temple Avenue, he fled on foot, and a foot chase ensued until the suspect ran into the apartment of an acquaintance, located on the 2800 block of East 15th Street. The suspect was considered armed and dangerous, according to officials.
Long Beach police were then dispatched at about 9:00AM to the apartment to assist task force members and establish a containment area, officials stated. The Long Beach Special Weapons and Tactics Team was activated as well.
Authorities also evacuated nearby residents just a few blocks away to Robert E. Lee Elementary School as a precautionary measure as the investigation continued.
Officials said the suspect complied with SWAT directions to exit the residence, but failed to comply with the officers’ verbal commands and instead began to “aggressively charge the officers.”
Police deployed intermediate force options, including a 40mm rubber baton round and K-9 Credo, who was attached to the SWAT unit.
“The suspect continued his aggressive charge toward officers while canine Credo continued to try and stop the suspect from advancing towards officers,” the release stated. “As Credo fought with the suspect, the suspect produced a knife while continuing to advance towards officers.”
One of the officers then discharged his weapon to protect the other officers and himself from the suspect, officials stated.
Both the suspect and Credo were struck by gunfire.
The suspect was transported to a local hospital by Long Beach Fire Department (LBFD) personnel and was later pronounced dead. Credo was transported by his handler, Officer Mike Parcells, to the Signal Hill Pet Hospital, where he died from his injuries.
A knife was recovered at the scene, officials said.
Photo courtesy of LBPD.
That afternoon, over 30 uniformed officers lined up outside the pet hospital to salute Credo in an impromptu ceremony. Credo was escorted to another veterinary hospital where an autopsy would be conducted.
Among the locals who showed up to pay respects to Credo were Long Beach resident Josie Gavieres and her 11-year-old dog Groucho.
"We thought we’d come out today just to show our support because we know what it’s like to lose a partner,” Gavieres said, visibly emotional.
Credo worked with Parcells in the department’s Patrol and Narcotics division and was involved in more than 30 arrests during his career.
Long Beach Police Salute K-9 Credo, Killed in the Line of Duty
Officers gathered at Signal Hill Animal Hospital today to salute Long Beach Police K-9 Credo, who was killed in the line of duty during an officer-involved shooting. Read more: lbpo.st/292j0K0Posted by Long Beach Post on Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Officer Parcells is a 23-year veteran of the LBPD and has been a K-9 handler for 16 years, officials stated. Credo was the second dog that Parcells has lost in the line of duty. In 2005, his K-9 partner Ranger, also a 4-year-old Belgian Malinois, was also shot during a SWAT call-out.
“These service dogs, these K-9s, are not just dogs—these are police officers,” said Deputy Chief Richard Conant during a press conference following the shooting. “This dog was injured in the performance of his duty and it’s going to weigh heavily on the Long Beach police family.”
The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office is conducting an independent investigation on the incident. The suspect’s identity has not been released by officials, pending notification of family members. However, friends of the suspect have identified him on social media as Barry Prak.
Police said the suspect was wanted in connection with a January 2014 gang-related shooting that left three men injured. In that incident, police said the suspect was one of three individuals allegedly involved in the shooting and subsequent police pursuit that ended when the suspect vehicle crashed into a parked car and the three suspects fled on foot.
Officers were able to detain and arrest the driver, 32-year-old Long Beach Ren Sry, that night and this March identified the suspect as the same individual involved in Tuesday's officer-involved shooting. The third suspect remains outstanding, officials said. Sry is currently being held in Los Angeles County Jail and pending trial. He is charged with felony evading, hit-and-run property damage, parole violation and an outstanding warrant.
Friends and family are expected to attend a vigil Wednesday, June 29 at 7:30PM at 15th Street and Temple Avenue.
Officials said once arrangements have been finalized they will announce details surrounding a memorial service for K-9 Credo.
Anyone wishing to make a contribution can do so by visiting the L.B.P.D. K-9 Association’s website at www.lbk9oa.org. Cards can be sent to Officer Parcells as follows:
Officer Mike Parcells
400 W. Broadway
Long Beach, CA 90802
"The Long Beach Police Department appreciates the outpouring of support from our local community, across the nation, and our law enforcement partners," officials stated Wednesday afternoon.
The Police Department thoroughly reviews all use of force incidents through a rigorous multi-step process that evaluates legal, policy, tactical, and equipment issues. Additionally, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office is conducting an independent investigation of the shooting, as they do with all officer involved shootings that occur in Los Angeles County that result in injury or death.
Anyone who may have witnessed this incident, or has video, or information, is encouraged to the Long Beach Police Department Homicide Detail at 562.570.7244.
This story was updated at 2:32PM with information on where to send contributions and condolences regarding K-9 Credo's death as well as a quote from LBPD officials thanking the public for their support.
This story was updated at 5:55PM with information on the suspect's identity and planned vigil with his family and friends.
This story was updated at 6:07PM with more details on the 2014 shooting that led officers to the suspect Tuesday.