published Sunday, June 15th, 2014

More charges expected in Walker police dog killing

A 58-year-old Idaho man who police say shot and killed a Walker County (Ga.) Sheriff's Office dog Friday likely will face felony charges related to the animal's death, Sheriff Steve Wilson said late Saturday.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is assisting in the probe, may bring the charges against suspect Steven Lee Waldemer on Monday, Wilson said.

The dog's handler, Deputy Sheriff Donnie Brown, suffered superficial wounds in the encounter that occurred when deputies were trying to serve a warrant on Waldemer.

Waldemer, on parole out of Idaho on a kidnapping charge, was taken into custody Friday at a Moonlake Road address in Menlo, Ga., where he had lived since spring 2012, according to the sheriff. His probation had been transferred to Walker County.

Officers were trying to serve Waldemer with a Walker County warrant on charges of aggravated sexual battery and a search warrant when he resisted arrest and fired a shotgun at K-9 Deputy Tanja, a 2-year-old Dutch shepherd, who died as a result of her wounds, and Brown, the sheriff said.

In response to the gunfire, deputies fired gas into the trailer to flush Waldemer out, but he was able to escape unnoticed out of a window, Wilson said in an e-mail.

About two hours after that initial confrontation, Department of Corrections K-9 Officer Heath Whited and his bloodhound found the suspect in a nearby wooded area.

Brown was treated at a hospital for superficial wounds to his face and neck and has been released.

Waldemer is being held at the Walker County Jail on the sexual battery charges.

He likely will face charges related to the shooting, the injuries the officer suffered and the death of the K-9, Wilson said. The death of a police dog in Georgia is a felony, with a one- to five-year sentence if convicted.

The sheriff said that although he plans a memorial service for Tanja, officials have not yet determined when that might be held.

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