Phoenix police take pursuit suspect into custody; K-9 dog killed during incident
PHOENIX (KSAZ/AP) - Police have taken a carjacking suspect into custody. He's accused of driving the stolen vehicle at high speeds through the city and leading police on a 45-minute chase.
FOX 10 has learned the suspect has been identified as 26-year-old Jairo Contreras and was involved in another carjacking and police chase in Phoenix last month.
Police say Contreras weaved the SUV in and out of traffic at high speeds, drove on light rail tracks, sped through red lights and drove the wrong way on an Interstate 17 frontage road.
>>VIDEO: Police pursuit in Phoenix
After authorities used stop sticks to deflate the tires of the vehicle, the SUV came to a stop in a residential area near the Glendale border.
A female passenger got out of the vehicle and surrendered to police, but Contreras jumped a home's backyard fence and eluded capture. The woman was later identified as 24-year-old Laura Dagnino.
"I hear when the car crashed.. I saw when two people got out of the car.. I seen when cops arrested the lady," said Jacqueline Aceto, who was home alone with her young children at the time. "From what I know, he was in my backyard, so it was scary knowing someone was in my backyard with a weapon with two kids in the house."
Officials say Contreras broke into the home and hid in the attic. Officers threw tear gas into the house and sent K-9 Bane in. Bane bit Contreras, but in the struggle, the dog died.
Police say Contreras was under the influence of drugs when he was arrested.
Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams stated, "Today we had our 17th incident of an officer-involved shooting. I'll start this by saying condolences. One of our K-9s was lost in this one. Bane was on the department for two years, was mortally wounded and I'll be leaving the scene here to check on our K-9 handler... When we chased the suspect to this area, he flees from the vehicle after it crashes, gets into one of our homes that are here.. got into the attic and after some discussions of trying to get him out, he refused to. We sent Bane in to do what the dogs do. They are our protectors, our partners.. it's definitely with heart that we lost Bane. Long story short, I need violence to stop from the community because this can't continue to happen. The men and women out here in blue are only trying to do their jobs. They want to do it safely."
A necropsy is being performed on Bane to determine his cause of death. Police have confirmed Bane was not shot, but the K-9 did bite Contreras. By the time officers got to both Bane and Contreras, Bane was already dead.
Contreras was transported to an area hospital for treatment of his injuries before being booked into jail. He's facing charges of armed robbery, aggravated assault, and felony flight. Contreras could also face a charge of harming a working animal.
While officers brought Contreras to Phoenix police headquarters, he was in a wheelchair with his hands and feet shackled and head covered. He did not talk about the charges he's facing or answer any questions about the death of K-9 Bane.
In 2012, Contreras escaped from Tent City, hiding in a laundry cart. He was later arrested in Santa Fe, New Mexico after a standoff. He served about three years in prison and police believe Contreras was involved in a high-speed pursuit through Phoenix just last month.
This time around, Contreras is being classified as high-risk and will likely be put in isolation, maximum security and closed custody.
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton issued a statement on the K-9's death:
“Our hearts are broken over the loss of Bane, who died protecting his fellow officers and our city. Police K9s are fearless, loyal companions who are essential to our department, and this tragic loss is felt throughout our community. Our prayers are with Bane’s handler and family.”