WELLINGTON, Fla.-- A Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office K-9 was killed Monday during a deputy-involved shooting in the area of The Mall at Wellington Green.
The shooting happened at 5:45 p.m.
According to authorities, a suspect shot at deputies and struck the 3-year-old K-9, named Cigo. The German Shepherd was taken to a veterinarian emergency center and later died. Cigo's deputy was his handler for about a year.
One suspect was shot by deputies and is currently at a local hospital in critical condition.
No civilians were hurt in the incident.
PBSO Sheriff Rick Bradshaw said their tactical unit spotted some people in the mall parking lot who were wanted in connection to an attempted murder case from a few weeks ago. The tactical unit approached the suspects in the parking lot away from the mall entrance. When deputies got near, one man took off.
Bradshaw said the handgun the suspect used to shoot K-9 Cigo was similar to the one used on November 14, when a man was shot at a bar in the area of Cresthaven, between Military Trail and Jog Rd. That incident was what let deputies to Monday's confrontation.
"It's very unfortunate, but at least no deputies are dead, no civilians dead and we got two very dangerous people off the street right now, " added Bradshaw.
The names of the suspects in custody have not yet been released.
Shoppers and mall employees have been waiting since the incident happened to get to their cars, still inside the tapped off parking lot where the shots were fired.
"This continues to be a very active incident," said Captain Albert Borroto with the Palm Beach County Fire Rescue.
Neveen Matta was helping shoppers inside the Perfumania store when she heard the shots fired in the parking lot.
“We heard like three shootings, like boom boom boom. And then we had a lot of people get inside the store, hide inside our door, ” said Matta.
She said a dozen people were inside the store and she and others hid in a storage closet.
“The security guy said like close the gate, close the gate, nobody in and nobody out.”
More than 30 minutes later Matta got the "all clear" but couldn't leave since her car was inside the crime scene tape for hours.
The mall was put on lockdown following the incident.
Sheriff Rick Bradshaw says his tactical team knew they were taking down accused criminals in a busy place. But he says they took precautions to make sure shoppers were safe.
“We made sure that there wasn’t going to be any pedestrian traffic, there wasn’t going to be any danger to the public, but we had to get these two guys. They are very dangerous people already involved in an attempted first degree murder, so once we found them we weren’t going to let them out of this parking lot.”