K9 officer killed in officer-involved shootout, suspect identified
WEST JORDAN, Utah — The suspect involved in Thursday night’s officer-involved shooting in southern Jordan has been identified as Zachary Alvarenga, 25, of West Jordan. Meanwhile, law enforcement across the state expressed their condolences for the slain K9 officer.
On Friday, West Jordan Police confirmed that Alvarenga was an officer with the Utah Department of Corrections. The woman he allegedly held against his will was someone he worked with.
The police pursued the suspect 3 times
Investigators say they first heard that Alvarenga was threatening a woman with a gun and refusing to let her out of her car. The woman managed to escape, but officers say they chased Alvarenga three times. During these pursuits, he allegedly called his victim’s family and threatened to harm them. Police nailed his tires in the 11400 South Redwood area in southern Jordan, and West Jordan Police Officer Sam Winkler said Alvarenga tried to run away from his car after that.
He said: “Mr Alvarenga actually fired at officers and PSD Maya succumbed to the gunshot wounds she sustained that night.
Police do not know if Maya was hit by Alvarenga’s bullets or by one of the eight officers who returned fire. Winkler said Maya was given a bulletproof vest, but the situation was unfolding so quickly that her master didn’t have time to put it on her.
“If that would have saved her, I don’t know where she was hit. He was handed a vest, but it was just too quick to put his vest on,” Winkler said.
According to a West Jordan Police press release, eight officers fired on Alvarenga.
Four of the officers work for the West Jordan Police Department, two for the South Jordan PD and two for the Unified Police Department. All eight have been on administrative leave while West Valley Police investigate. Winker confirmed that body cameras worn by officers recorded the shooting.
Condolences for Maya
Following news of Maya’s death, messages of love and support poured in from law enforcement across the state.
The Kaysville Police Department posted a message on their Facebook page, saying, “Our hearts are heavy as we learn of the passing of K9 Maya from the West Jordan City Police Department. Your service will never be forgotten.
I wish continued strength to the West Jordan Police Department after one of their K-9s was killed in the line of duty. Today I spoke with Chief Wallentine to offer my support and condolences on behalf of @slcpd. pic.twitter.com/51r8ZQr1Qa
— Chief Mike Brown (@ChiefMikeBrown) February 18, 2022
The Orem Police Department said: “Our hearts are broken upon learning of the tragic loss of Maya, a K9 police officer from West Jordan. Our thoughts are with everyone at the West Jordan Police Department and in particular Maya’s handler. Officer Maya gave her life to protect others, and she will never be forgotten. Rest in peace Maya.”
Winkler said K9 agents hold a special place in law enforcement.
“[The dog] becomes a big part of our family, and it’s a huge loss for us, emotionally,” he said.
The funeral is scheduled for Maya and is scheduled to take place on Monday, February 28 at 11:00 a.m. However, the location has not been fixed and it will not be open to the public.
“We reserve this for officers and K9 officers only. We know the public wants to be part of it,” Winkler said. “There will be one last patrol for PSD Maya after the ceremony.”
The public is invited to attend Maya’s last procession, but the route has not yet been defined.