PEMBROKE, NC (WBTW) – It’s been a difficult week for members of the Pembroke Police Department as they deal with the loss of one of their own. Wednesday night several were getting ready to remember their fallen brother.
“He was part of the team,” said Sgt. Timothy Locklear. Locklear and his team are shocked at the tragic loss of K9 Officer Payne.
“I’ve told these guys he was one of us,” he said.
Locklear said Payne’s handler Officer Jason Hunt stopped to let him exercise and use the bathroom back on November 19th.
“Officer Hunt lost sight of Payne while he was out exercising. A few moments later he heard gunshots,” he explained.
When Officer Hunt finally found Payne, he was limping and bleeding from four gunshot wounds. Police say a homeowner may have though Payne was a stray dog trying to harm his dogs and fired on the K9.
While he was initially improving, K9 Payne died Monday, 10 days after the incident.
“Since he was sworn in back in February we’ve all grown attached to him, from the officers to the communications staff,” Locklear recalled.
Sgt. Locklear said Officer Hunt was following protocol and that K9 officers are often let out to exercise during their shifts. Payne, a 2-year-old lab, had been one of two Pembroke K9 officers sworn in back in February.
“They deal mostly with drugs; they also assist in locating missing people,” Locklear explained.
A public memorial is planned for Thursday in Pembroke to honor Payne’s service to the community. Officers will escort Payne to Officer Hunt’s residence on Deep Branch Rd. The graveside ceremony will start there at 12 p.m.
Sgt. Locklear said the investigation into Payne’s death is ongoing and no charges have been filed so far.