PEARLINGTON -- With the help of his canine partner, a Hancock County deputy narrowly escaped a roadside stop that turned violent Monday night, when three men attacked him and tried to carry him into a wooded area, authorities said.
Sheriff's Chief Investigator Glenn Grannan said it appears the attackers intended to kill Deputy Todd Frazier as they fought for his gun and tried to carry him off the roadway.
"It seems like they were trying to take him back to the woods," Grannan said while on the scene early Tuesday. "They were going to dispose of him. They were going to finish him."
The sheriff's office Tuesday afternoon identified Frazier, a K-9 officer with about three years on the force, as the victim of the attack at a rest stop on U.S. 90, about 4 miles east of the Louisiana state line.
He was released from the hospital Tuesday morning after being treated for a cut to his forehead and other non-life threatening injuries.
Chief Deputy Don Bass also identified Frazier's partner, a Belgian malinois, as officer Lucas.
The incident occurred about 10 p.m., Bass said, when Frazier stopped to check on a driver sitting alone in a car parked at the rest stop.
Authorities described it as a blue Lincoln Towncar, a 1999-2004 model, with a black vinyl top and large chrome rims. It had no license plates, he said.
Unaware two other men were in the woods behind the rest area, Frazier walked up to the driver and began speaking to him. The other men emerged from the woods, drawing the deputy's attention away from the driver, who got out and started attacking.
The other two immediately joined in the assault, Bass said.
Grannan said one of the men may have used a knife to deliver the 2.5-inch cut to Frazier's forehead.
With Lucas in the back seat of the squad car, the men wrestled for the deputy's gun as they began dragging him towards the woods.
That's when Frazier managed to reach for a remote control device on his belt to open the door to his squad car, unleashing his four-legged partner.
Investigators believe the dog attacked and bit at least two of the men, Bass said.
It was enough to send the assailants running for their vehicle, which they used to flee the scene, possibly headed into Louisiana, he said.
The remote control door-opening system is part of a new feature the sheriff's office added to its K-9 vehicles just last month.
"It definitely saved his life," Sheriff Ricky Adam said.
Lucas was not injured in the incident.
Though the sheriff has been able to equip his deputies with some new technology like the remote K-9 system, his force struggles from a lack of other technological tools that have become commonplace in many other agencies around the country.
While other city and county leaders are buying body cameras for their police officers, Adam said he struggles to maintain three outdated dashboard cameras available for his entire fleet of vehicles.
Adam said his department's lack of equipment is the result of budget cuts.
Since Adam has only four K-9 units, the remote door-opening system didn't require a fleet-wide purchase.
The cameras are used solely by road deputies, meaning less than a third of the squad cars on duty in Hancock County at any given time have dashboard cameras.
With no video recording of the attack, investigators have so far been unable to identify or develop a detailed physical description of the suspects.
"Dash cameras would've really made a big difference," Adam said.
Anyone with information about Monday night's incident is asked to call the Hancock County Sheriff's Office at (228) 255-9191.