La Vergne Police Department K9 Sjaak died in the line of duty Wednesday after a suspect opened fire on the patrol vehicle he was riding in with Officer Justin Darby the previous day.

Darby was not injured, LPD said. The suspect was fatally wounded in a shoot-out Tuesday afternoon with police following a chase.

Sjaak (pronounced Jacques) was shot three times, the LPD and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said. Sjaak underwent emergency surgery on Wednesday. La Vergne announced his death on Wednesday night.

Sjaak is a Belgian Malinois who has been with the department since 2014.

“Our hearts are broken,” said Interim Chief Chip Davis. “Our K9s are members of the LPD family. Sjaak was an amazing and loyal dog. We ask everyone to keep Officer Darby, his family, and all of the La Vergne officers in your thoughts and prayers as we deal with this loss.”

The TBI identified the suspect as Jovan Brice, 39.

The incident began when Darby drove his patrol vehicle out of the police department shortly after noon Tuesday and pulled onto Murfreesboro Road, the TBI said. A vehicle driven by Brice pulled alongside the passenger side, and Brice allegedly fired shots into the patrol car.

Darby and other officers pursued Brice into a residential complex at 1502 Rutherford Point Circle, the TBI said. An investigation showed Brice left his vehicle and allegedly fired at the officers, who returned fire.

The suspect got back into his vehicle and drove further into the parking lot, striking a parked vehicle before coming to rest, the TBI said. When officers approached the vehicle, they found the driver had sustained a gunshot wound. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Final arrangements for Sjaak will be announced at a later date.

La Vergne Mayor Jason Cole said, "It's hard to find the right words. We are heartbroken but none so greatly as Officer Darby and his family. We were honored to have Sjaak serve our department. He was a wonderful dog and a loyal partner. Our community was better for his service and he will be missed greatly."

Sixteenth District Attorney General Jennings Jones requested the assistance of TBI in the investigation, which is a normal procedure in police-involved shootings.

Editor's Note: The spelling of the suspect's name was updated after the TBI confirmed the spelling was given incorrectly to them.

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