COBURG — A Springfield police dog is being credited with saving an officer’s life Monday morning after a chase that led to a dead-end street in Coburg, where a masked man allegedly pointed a gun at police and fought them with “super-human strength.”
The man’s name was not released Monday. Springfield police said he is under guard at McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center, where he had surgery on one of his wrists, which was broken by a police dog during the arrest.
The man, 38, is a fugitive from another jurisdiction, and the release of his name could compromise the investigation, Springfield police Lt. Scott McKee said.
Once released from the hospital, police said, the man will be booked into the Lane County Jail on charges of attempted aggravated murder of a police officer, second-degree assault, unlawful use of a motor vehicle, assault on a police service animal, assault on a public safety officer, resisting arrest, unlawful use of a weapon, being a felon in possession of a firearm, manufacturing and delivering a controlled substance (methamphetamine) and possession of burglary tools.
At that time, his name will be made public through jail logs.
The incident began late Sunday night when a couple who live on Pioneer Pike Street, near Coburg and Harlow roads in Eugene, reported their black Cadillac Escalade stolen from their garage.
A man allegedly broke into the garage, found the keys inside the SUV and used the remote garage door opener in the vehicle to escape, McKee said. The couple called 911 when they saw their SUV being backed out of their driveway.
Around midnight, a Springfield police officer spotted the stolen Escalade on 28th Street in Springfield and attempted to stop the vehicle. Instead of pulling over, the driver led police through the Mohawk area and onto Highway 126, eventually heading north on Interstate 5.
The Escalade took exit 199 into Coburg, and police followed it onto East Van Duyn Street, where the SUV eventually came to a dead end, police said.
With police vehicles behind the Escalade, the driver allegedly put the large SUV into reverse, hit the gas and rammed into the patrol cars, totalling one police car, which became entangled with the Escalade.
McKee said the masked man refused police commands, grabbed a semi-automatic handgun from the back seat and escaped through the front passenger window, McKee said.
As the man ran, he turned and pointed the gun at officers with one arm just as Springfield police K9 Falko locked his jaws onto the man’s other arm at the wrist.
“The instinctive response by K9 Falko caused the suspect to divert his attention to the K9, and from his apparent intended attack on the officers with this loaded handgun,” McKee said.
The man began beating the dog with his gun, but K9 Falko did not let go of the man’s wrist, eventually breaking the bone, which caused the man to drop the gun, McKee said.
The man continued to fight with officers with what McKee termed “super-human strength,” even after he was struck by a Taser. McKee said the man, who was believed to be under the influence of methamphetamine, eventually was knocked unconscious. However, he regained consciousness and continued to fight police, trying to get to his gun, McKee said.
With the continued help of Falko, police eventually controlled the suspect.
“Officers on scene speculate the outcome may have been deadly had K9 Falko not intervened at the moment he did,” McKee said.
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