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Contributed photo by Bradley County Sheriff's Office / Bradley County Sheriff's Office deputy Eduardo Choate and his K-9 partner Joker are shown in a 2020 photo posted on the department's social media page.

A half dozen juveniles have been arrested in Chattanooga on charges out of Cleveland and Bradley County in connection with a burglary call that led to a foot pursuit and shooting that left a sheriff's office K-9 named Joker fighting for his life.

The juveniles were charged by the Cleveland Police Department with auto burglary, conspiracy to commit auto burglary and felony evading arrest. Bradley County authorities charged the juveniles with theft over $10,000, conspiracy to commit theft over $10,000 and attempted intentional killing of an animal, according to a Bradley Sheriff's Office spokesperson.

Cleveland police answered the initial call at 1:40 a.m. Wednesday to an auto burglary report at Park Oaks Apartments on Harrison Pike, and when they got there they encountered a white Jeep Gladiator speeding away, striking a patrol car and barreling through a fence, spokesperson Alana Shell said in a news release.

The Jeep raced north on Georgetown Road toward Interstate 75, where county deputies attempted to stop the Jeep, which had been reported stolen in Hamilton County, Shell said.

The occupants, four unidentified men, fled into the woods around Toyota of Cleveland at Exit 20.

That's when Bradley County Deputy Eduardo Choate, the dog's handler, sent the K-9 after the fleeing suspects.

"Upon making contact with the suspects, K-9 Joker was shot in the head area," Shell said. "The gunshot was heard by deputies, and K-9 Joker was located shortly after in a thickly wooded area."

The dog was carried out of the woods and taken immediately for veterinary care, Shell said.

"K-9 Joker is still being treated at an emergency animal hospital in Chattanooga and his condition at this time is very serious," Shell said Thursday.

Choate was unharmed.

A handgun was found in the stolen Jeep, she said.

At that point, the sheriff's department's SWAT members and off-duty officers were activated to set up a perimeter to hem the suspects in until they were taken into custody, but police soon learned the suspects allegedly stole a blue and silver Lexus from the area of Withrow Road, which is behind the car dealership and runs parallel to I-75. And the suspects again were headed south toward Chattanooga, authorities said.

Investigators had video of the Lexus theft that showed the suspects, and that the vehicle had a firearm in it when it was stolen, according to Shell.

Later in the day, Chattanooga police joined forces with authorities from Bradley County to locate and detain several people of interest, Chattanooga police spokesperson Elisa Myzal said Thursday.

Myzal said the suspects were found on Dahlia Street, which is in Chattanooga Housing Authority's Cromwell Hills apartments near Shallowford Road and Highway 153.

According to Shell, Chattanooga Housing Authority police found the stolen Lexus at the apartments. During a search, police found stolen property including two handguns.

Detectives were able to identify the six juveniles and link them to the alleged crimes, Shell said. It was not immediately clear where the juveniles live.

The six juveniles remain in custody in Bradley County, according to Shell.

Contact Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton.

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