PEMBROKE — Pembroke police K9 Officer Payne died today from injuries suffered in a shooting.
Payne’s death was reported on social media by his family, partner Officer Jason Hunt and his wife Alicia Hunt, just days after being released from Pembroke Veterinary Hospital.
“Pembroke police mourn the loss of one of its own, Officer Payne Hunt,” Pembroke police posted on their Facebook page today. “After a weeklong battle of complications, Payne’s suffering ended. There will be a public service that will be announced later. We will continue to fight the good fight. Rest easy brother.”
The Labrador Retriever was shot when Jason Hunt stopped on Union Chapel Road on Nov. 18 for the dog to walk. Last week Pembroke Police Chief Grant Florita said it appeared Payne picked up a scent and ran toward Garden Street. Hunt then heard several gunshots before Payne came back limping, with flesh wounds on his left leg and ribs.
Payne underwent surgery, and spent a few days under a veterinarian’s care before being taken home with a police escort.
“This precious Lab is so much more than a dog, he’s family. His home family, blue-line family and community are in need,” Alicia Hunt wrote last week.
Now those families have been rallying round and offering condolences and support.
The investigation into the shooting is ongoing but no information on potential charges has been released. He was reportedly shot by someone who believe he was a stray and whose own dogs had recently been attacked.
Pembroke officers held a plate sale and benefit run to raise money to get the K9 unit, which primarily deals with narcotics, started in the spring. The Lumbee Tribe also donated $5,000 to the effort to bring in Payne and his fellow K9 Officer Zeus.