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Man gets 35 years for shooting police dog

COLUMBIA, S.C., Jan. 7 (UPI) -- A South Carolina man who killed a police dog during a gunfight and chase has pleaded guilty and will serve 35 years in prison, officials said.

Maurice McCreary, 24, admitted he fired a half-dozen shots at officers who were pursuing him after an armed robbery Dec. 16, 2011. No officers were hit but Fargo, who along with a large contingent of police was chasing McCreary.

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When Fargo caught up to McCreary the dog bit him and latched on. As McCreary tried to run away he shot at the animal. Fargo survived long enough to make it to an emergency veterinarian but died later that night.

Several officers who testified at Monday's hearing became emotional when recalling that night, including Richland County Sheriff's investigator Warren Cavanagh, Fargo's handler, the State of Columbia reported.

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"Who did he have that gun drawn for?" Cavanagh asked. "Yes, there was a dog that was killed, but he was killed doing his job and that was protecting these officers that night."

Eventually more than 200 officers were called in to help hunt down McCreary over a nine-hour span. He was eventually found sleeping in a shed behind a home in the area.

McCreary apologized to officers before receiving his sentence.

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"Being bit by a dog, I did freak out and I did shoot at the dog," McCreary said. "I just ask that you accept my apology. It was never my intention to go out that night and shoot at officers and have a shootout."

McCreary pleaded guilty to five counts of attempted murder and one count of killing a police dog. He was sentenced to five concurrent 30-year terms for the attempted murder charges and an additional five years for killing the police dog, to be served after he completes the attempted murder sentences.

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