Sheriff's service dog continues recovery from stabbing

Posted at 5:48 PM, Dec 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-06 21:21:56-05

SAN DIEGO - Authorities Tuesday released the name of a sheriff's sergeant who shot a knife-wielding parolee, leaving him with non-fatal bullet wounds, after the ex-con allegedly stabbed a service dog and took a man hostage during an early-morning rampage in Rancho Santa Fe.

Scott Bligh, a 21-year veteran of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, opened fire on 50-year-old Edward Ray Nett in the 6000 block of Paseo Delicias on Saturday, Lt. Kenneth Nelson said.

The events that led to the gunfire began about 5:30 that morning, when deputies responded to reports of a person yelling and breaking things in the small commercial center of the upscale North County community east of Solana Beach.

When the patrol personnel arrived, Nett allegedly brandished a knife and threatened to stab them. The deputies responded by shooting pepper-spray projectiles at the suspect and deploying a police dog on him, Nelson said.

Nett -- who was on conditional release from prison following a conviction for violently resisting sheriff's deputies last year -- was undeterred by the caustic chemical agent and allegedly slashed the canine Banjer in the face, then ran off, broke into a nearby apartment and briefly took a resident hostage.

"He didn't wave a white flag and say I give up," Deputy Austyn Elmone said of Banjer. "Initially, he was stunned but a second later he was back in it, and he was fine from there."

"It spooked me at first. I thought his eye was gone," Elmone said.

The victim was able to break free and lock himself in a bathroom, unharmed. Nett, however, allegedly shouted to the deputies that he had slit the man's throat, then walked outside and threatened them again.

At that point, Bligh fired four shots at Nett. The deputies provided first-aid to the suspect prior to the arrive of paramedics, who took him to a trauma center for treatment of non-life-threatening bullet wounds to his torso.

Elmone feared, at first, that it would be much worse, forcing his days of patrolling with Banjer to come to an abrupt end.

Elmone said of Banjer, "We're extremely close. We spend 12 hours a shift together."

Deputies rushed Banjer to an emergency veterinarian in Sorrento Valley.

"They had stretchers on standby, they had the whole bit, but he walked right in," Elmone said.

Banjer underwent emergency surgery for a slash wound underneath his left eye. He was expected to make a full recovery, Nelson said.

Banjer eventually walked right out of the hospital and back to Elmone's home, where he lives. He's now on light duty for the next two weeks, living the good life.

"Plenty of just petting time, and feeding him, and making sure he's OK," Elmone said.

Over the next two weeks, trainers will be seeing if Banjer still has his full sense of smell. They'll also test if he's as willing to engage a suspect, before letting him back on patrol.

Elmone is most excited about getting back on patrol with Banjer, who is more than just his partner.

"It's like going to work with your best friend every day," he said, leaning down to pet Banjer. "Isn't that right buddy?"

Nett was expected to be booked into county jail on a slate of felony charges following his release from the hospital.