COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – A memorial service was held Wednesday for a South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) K-9 who died last week in the line of duty.
Multiple law enforcement agencies participated in a procession for K-9 Rico on Wednesday morning. The procession left McAllister-Smith Funeral Home in West Ashley around 8:00 a.m. and traveled down Glenn McConnell Parkway to I-526 and I-26.
SLED and agencies honored the life and service of K-9 Rico during a ceremony held at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy in Columbia, according to the state’s top law enforcement agency.
Pets are not allowed at the service; however, law enforcement K-9s are welcome.
K-9 Rico was sent into a Johns Island home last Thursday to help in the search for a wanted suspect who led multiple agencies in an hours-long manhunt.
Ernest Robert Burbage III was accused of randomly shooting a passerby and later shooting a Charleston County Sheriff’s Office deputy in the head after opening fire on a SWAT vehicle.
Rico was sent into the residence to search places a robot could not reach, according to SLED Chief Mark Keel. The police dog was killed, and the suspect exited the home carrying the high-powered rifle believed to be used in the two previous shootings.
Burbage was shot and killed in a sideyard, ending the nearly 30-hour search.
K9 Rico, a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois mix, had been with the agency for just over a year and served on the SLED SWAT team and K9 tracking team.
“He was out almost every single day working with our folks and working with sheriffs and city police departments from across our state,” Keel said, noting that Rico had been involved in “too many apprehensions to name.”
Chief Keel said the agency has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and heartfelt messages from the community and fellow law enforcement officers.
He called K-9 Rico a hero who saved countless lives throughout his short career.
Donations can be sent in K-9 Rico’s name to The Foundation of Former Agents of SLED, 541 Shadowood Drive, Irmo, SC 29063.