Sheriff tears up describing K-9 Chucky's sacrifice in highway standoff

Chucky's funeral services announced

SAN ANTONIO – For the first time in several years, a K-9 with the Bexar County Sheriff's Office was killed in the line of duty.

Chucky the K-9 officer was deployed Friday night to subdue an armed suspect who had led authorities on a chase. Chucky was able to bite the man, identified as 38-year-old Matthew Mireles, but Mireles fatally shot him.

Here's everything we know about the chase, the suspect and the K-9...

Where and how did the chase start? How did it play out?

Karnes County Sheriff Dwayne Villanueva said the chase started off as a routine traffic stop by Karnes City police around 9 p.m.. Mireles then led officers on a pursuit throughout Karnes County for about 30 minutes before moving on to Bexar County, Villanueva said.

Sheriff Javier Salazar said Karnes City police attempted to stop Mireles for speeding but Mireles refused to pull over.

Salazar said Mireles went from Highway 181 to Interstate 37 North to Loop 1604 and that the Sheriff's Office joined the chase when Mireles entered Bexar County.

At 10:34 p.m., deputies attempted to deploy spike strips but were unsuccessful due to oncoming traffic, Salazar said. Deputies made a second attempt minutes later, but were again unsuccessful for the same reason.

Salazar said video shows Mireles "clearly trying to kill" officers, firing at them throughout the chase.

The chase became a standoff when Mireles exited his vehicle and put his truck in reverse. The truck struck a patrol car carrying K-9 Chucky, Salazar said, and Chucky and his handler began following Mireles on foot.

"While they could have, at certain points, taken a shot at this suspect, they were cognizant of the backdrop which was oncoming traffic and passersby," Salazar said.

**WATCH LIVE** Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar provides an update on the multi-agency pursuit which resulted in the K-9 Deputy Chucky being shot and killed.

Posted by KSAT 12 & on Monday, January 28, 2019

Mireles is known to authorities

Mireles is being held in lieu of $650,000 bail and is charged with interfering with a police service animal, attempted capital murder of a police officer, aggravated assault against a public servant and evading arrest with a vehicle. The charges range from third- to first-degree felonies.

According to records through the Texas Department of Public Safety, Mireles has a slew of arrests dating back to 1998.

Records show Mireles was arrested in March of 1998 for evading arrest. He was arrested again in April 1998 on a charge of resisting arrest or transport.

He was arrested again in January 2001 on a charge of theft of property over $50 and under $500. Six months later, he was arrested for assaulting a family member.

He was sentenced to five years behind bars for the assault charge, but before he began serving his sentence, he was arrested in August 2001 on a charge of driving while intoxicated and again in October 2001 for aggravated assault against a public servant, evading arrest and possession of a controlled substance.

He was sentenced to five years behind bars in April 2002 and was released in March 2007.

Mireles was subsequently arrested in June 2007 for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and again in November 2008 for possession of a controlled substance.

He was sentenced to four years behind bars for both charges in May 2009.

He was released in August 2017, according to DPS records.

Salazar said Monday Mireles was wanted on a felony warrant out of Harris County.

Why did authorities deploy K-9 Chucky?

Officials with the Sheriff's Office explained that the on-scene commander made the call to deploy Chucky "to address a deadly immediate threat to the public and officers."

Salazar said Monday that it was unsafe for authorities to shoot at Mireles because nearby traffic put citizens in the line of fire.

"While they could have, at certain points, taken a shot at this suspect, they were cognizant of the backdrop, which was oncoming traffic and passersby," Salazar said.

Prior to deploying K-9 Chucky, authorities said Mireles had opened fire on deputies and troopers during the chase, and had pointed his gun toward authorities, himself, passersby and a helicopter flying overhead.

Chucky was able to bite Mireles, but lost his grip and swung off of Mireles' arm, landing approximately 6 feet in front of him. That's when Mireles opened fire on the dog, authorities said.

Salazar said K-9 Chucky suffered a graze wound to his muzzle and a fatal gunshot wound to the body. Even after suffering the body wound, Chucky apparently tried to attack Mireles again, Salazar said.

"In spite of being mortally wounded, Chucky stayed in the fight," Salazar said, choking back tears. "Which, we can't ask much more of any officer, to stay in the fight and survive. Just because you're dead, doesn't mean you're done. I think Chucky displayed that that night." 

While Mireles continued firing as Chucky attacked him, Salazar said Chucky saved the lives of the deputies at the scene as Mireles was not able to get into a firing stance and shoot deputies.

Salazar said the Sheriff's Office follows a policy that recognizes the "sanctity of human life." 

"Our number one goal was to get everyone through this situation as safely as possible," Salazar said. "I can say that we got through the situation without any loss of human life, to include the suspect."

Salazar said he feels Mireles, who is still in critical condition, owes his life to the deputies who showed an "immense amount of restraint in making sure that everyone got through the situation alive and well."

Was K-9 Chucky wearing a protective vest?

In 2016, Chucky was outfitted with a bullet- and stabproof vest through a donation from Vested Interest K9s Inc. The Sheriff's Office said Saturday that Chucky's handler did not have an opportunity to pull away and put Chucky's vest on before he was deployed.

"They did not have the luxury of backing off and going and putting this vest on Chucky. That deputy was actively engaged in the pursuit," Salazar said Monday. "Had we had enough deputies there to say, 'Hey go ahead and you back off and go and maybe try and catch up,' -- we weren't afforded that luxury.

"So, I'll make it clear, this incident was driven by one person. It was driven by this suspect who was hellbent on creating as much havoc and chaos as he possibly could."

Authorities elaborated Saturday that it's not realistic for Chucky to wear his vest at all times, citing health concerns.

"The vest is not able to be worn at all times, due to overheating concerns and physical fatigue on the dog. It is intended to be placed on the dog in the event of a pre-planned operation," the Sheriff's Office said in a statement. "This was not a pre-planned event, due to the deadly actions of the suspect placing the general public and officers on scene in danger of imminent death or serious bodily injury."

The Sheriff's Office added, "Preliminarily, it appears all policies and procedures were complied with. The whole incident is under routine review."

BCSO says necropsy indicates K-9 Chucky was hit twice

The Sheriff's Office said Monday K-9 Chucky appears to have suffered a graze wound to the muzzle and a gunshot to his body. The gunshot wound to the body partially severed Chucky's aorta, which ultimately led to his death, Salazar said.

Investigators believe both shots came from Mireles' gun.

"The necropsy has been performed and we are awaiting the final written report," the Sheriff's Office said in a statement. "According to investigators, it appears Chucky has evidence of two separate bullet wounds, which investigators believe both came from the suspect.

"The handling investigator was present at the necropsy and based this belief upon the types of wounds, and a review of video evidence, which shows the moments of the shooting. It appears neither of the wounds were from officers."

Salazar said it's his belief that even if Chucky had been rushed to an animal hospital, he still would have died.

Sheriff says now is not the time to ask 'hows, whys, what ifs' about incident

Throughout the Monday press conference, Salazar restated that Mireles is to blame for K-9 Chucky's death. 

"As far as second guessing anybody, or looking into the hows and the whys and the what ifs and what else we could have done -- that time will come. For now, I have got an agency that is absolutely heartbroken," an emotional Salazar said. "I've got a family and a deputy that is absolutely heartbroken that one of their family members is dead. We're concentrating all of our efforts on that."

When will Chucky be laid to rest?

The Sheriff's Office said Monday K-9 Chucky's funeral will be held at Community Bible Church on Feb. 4 at 10 a.m. 

A memorial procession comprised of first responders and marked law enforcement vehicles will depart from Lot B of the Alamodome at 9 a.m. 

The procession will travel north on U.S. Highway 281, to the Loop 1604 East access road. The procession will take a left on Gold Canyon Road and proceed to Community Bible Church.

Chucky will be buried with full honors.

Flowers may be delivered to Mission Park North Stone Oak at 23755 U.S. Highway 281. 

Sheriff's Office not accepting donations

Salazar said due to the outpouring of support, the Sheriff's Office is not accepting donations relating to Chucky's funeral.

Salazar said Mission Park Funeral Homes is donating its services and burying Chucky free of charge. He also thanked Becker Animal Hospital and the 100 Club of San Antonio for their support.

How are BCSO K-9s trained?

In August 2017, KSAT got a glimpse at how the Sheriff's Office trains its K-9s.

About the Authors:

Ivan Herrera has worked as a journalist in San Antonio since 2016. His work for KSAT 12 and includes covering breaking news of the day, as well as producing Q&As and content for the "South Texas Pride" and "KSAT Money" series.