Illinois police K-9 fatally shot while chasing fleeing suspect

 A police K-9 was shot and killed in the line of duty in Illinois on Sunday while pursuing a suspect who was fleeing from officers, authorities said.

Rockford Police Department's K-9 Nix and her handler, Officer Vargas, located a suspect who was wanted in connection with an earlier domestic situation, the Winnebago County State's Attorney's Office said in a news release.

The suspect, identified as Malik Trotter, got into an argument with a woman at an apartment and took her phone, prosecutors said. The victim's son heard three gunshots before Trotter left the area.

When Nix and Vargas tried to stop Trotter, the suspect ran away and jumped the fence. The K-9 and the officer pursued him, although Nix caught Trotter first.

As Vargas got closer he heard three gunshots and found Nix lying next to a residence with what appeared to be gunshot wounds.

The officer then spotted Trotter across the street, where officials say the suspect opened fire. Vargas retaliated and ultimately struck Trotter in the leg before taking him into custody.

Trotter was treated at the scene before paramedics transported him to hospital.

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However, Nix was declared dead some time later.

"K-9 Nix made the ultimate sacrifice while serving and protecting this community," Police Chief Carla Redd said in a statement. "I ask all of you to keep K-9 Officer Vargas, the entire K-9 unit and Nix in your thoughts and prayers. K-9 Nix is family and we are truly grateful for his service to the Rockford Police Department Are."

The department held a procession on Tuesday for Nix, who joined the department in 2018.

Meanwhile, the Winnebago Boone Integrity Task Force is leading the investigation into the officer-involved shooting.

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