Wasilla man found guilty of killing K-9 Helo, attempted murder of officers

K-9 officer Helo, shot and killed while apprehending convicted suspect Almando Abarca. Alaska State Troopers photo.
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PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - A jury convicted a man of assault and attempted murder for his part in a 2016 shooting spree that left a police dog dead.

According to prosecutors in Palmer, Almando Abarca, 27, was found guilty on Wednesday afternoon for his crimes on Sept. 25, 2016. At that time, Palmer Police officers initially tried to pull Abarca over for faulty rail lights. He did not stop.

Instead, according to Alaska State Troopers, Abarca sped off, leading to a high speed chase. He eventually abandoned his vehicle, which was still moving and in drive, and ran on foot into some nearby woods. That's when, prosecutors say, the shooting started.

A K-9 officer named Helo, a Belgian Malinois, was deployed to apprehend Abarca. Instead, Abarca opened fire, striking Helo with multiple bullets, killing him. He also reportedly shot at the officers, hence the attempted murder charges.

At that point, officers with Palmer PD fired back at Abarca, striking him once in the shoulder. Eventually, Abarca gave himself up and was arrested.

Though he was convicted by a jury on Feb. 7, his sentencing won't happen until May 29. Prosecutors said in a release that he faces a sentencing range of one to four years for assault, harming a police dog and failure to stop, and five to 99 years for attempted murder.