December 25, 2018 8:10 pm

K-9 killed on Christmas Eve as police, robbery suspects exchange gunfire near Florida mall

WATCH: Police K-9 killed, suspect injured in Florida mall shooting on Christmas eve

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WELLINGTON, Fla. — A police K-9 is dead and a suspect is hospitalized after a shooting near a Florida shopping mall on Christmas Eve, authorities said.

In a statement Tuesday, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Therese Barbera said authorities had been searching for two suspects wanted on warrants for attempted first-degree murder and robbery with a firearm. The suspects were located Monday afternoon at the Wellington Green Mall.

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Barbera said undercover deputies secured an area of the mall parking lot and confronted the men when they came outside.

One suspect, 19-year-old Justin Vazquez, surrendered immediately. The other, 28-year-old Giovany Ramos Alvarez, took off running, Barbera said.

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A three-year-old canine named Cigo pursued Alvarez. Barbera said Alvarez turned and fired multiple times, striking Cigo before two deputies returned fire, wounding the suspect.

No bystanders at the mall were injured in the shooting. Both deputies involved in the shooting were placed on administrative leave with pay, according to the sheriff’s office.

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Alvarez was hospitalized Tuesday in serious condition, Barbera said.

“He’s pretty well wounded,” Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said at a news conference.

Cigo was pronounced dead at an animal hospital.

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“He did his job and saved those deputies’ lives,” Bradshaw told reporters.

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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