K-9 Officer killed protecting team mates

PROSPERITY, SC – An armed fugitive opened fire on law enforcement officers Tuesday morning, resulting in the death of a K-9 officer and minor injuries to other officers, according to authorities.

The Newberry County Sheriff’s Office reported that K-9 Coba’s actions were instrumental in saving the lives of deputies and state law enforcement agents during the confrontation. “K-9 Coba was a brave agent whose sacrifice protected our community,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.

Coba, a 4-year-old Belgian-Malinois mix, had been with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) since 2021. His handler, Special Agent Richard “Cole” Powell, was part of a task force searching for a fugitive believed to be hiding in a relative’s home on Gravel Road in Prosperity.

Upon encountering the suspect, the fugitive allegedly opened fire, fatally wounding Coba and attempting to shoot other task force members. Deputies and SLED agents returned fire, injuring the suspect, who was later taken to a hospital.

First responders rushed Coba to an emergency veterinary clinic, but he succumbed to his injuries. The sheriff described the incident as a “murder.”

Governor Henry McMaster expressed his condolences on social media, acknowledging the bravery of K-9 officers and their handlers. “We are grateful for our K-9s, their handlers, and all our law enforcement officers who risk their lives daily,” McMaster wrote.

Due to standard protocol, the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office has requested that the Lexington County Sheriff’s Office conduct an investigation into the police-involved shooting.