'Coward' gunman who killed K-9 sheriff's deputy found dead after 2-day search

‘Coward’ gunman who killed K-9 sheriff’s deputy found dead after 2-day search

(As originally published with a news conference and additional photos, Thu, September 28th 2023, 8:25 PM EDT)

JOHNS ISLAND, S.C. (TND) — A K-9 sheriff’s deputy was killed at the end of a manhunt that started Wednesday and stretched into Thursday.

The suspect, Ernest Robert Burbage III, was wanted for wounding a deputy and another person in Johns Island, near Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday.

He had an active arrest warrant for attempted murder and was killed after the SWAT team sent a robot into his home. His death was described as an “officer-involved” shooting.

Sadly, the K-9 named Rico was shot to death just before.

Rico was a 3-year-old Shepard mix. Authorities said the dog had participated in too many apprehensions to name.

Earlier, Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano said Burbage, 38, had been drinking and got into an argument with his girlfriend.

Then, he started “randomly shooting” and hit a passenger in a car that happened to be driving by. Neither the car nor the victim had been targeted.

Later, the sheriff said, authorities found Burbage standing in an acquaintance’s yard, holding a long gun or rifle, when he tried to hide in the nearby woods.

Deputies deployed an armored vehicle and Burbage opened fire, hitting the vehicle several times, and one of the deputies operating it was struck in the head.

'Coward' gunman who killed K-9 sheriff's deputy found dead after 2-day search
Ernest Robert Burbage III, suspected of wounding a deputy and a random person, was killed in an “officer-involved” shooting, Sept. 28, 2023. (Charleston Co. Sheriff’s Office | WCIV)

Master Deputy James Gilbreath’s injuries were not life-threatening and he’s already out of the hospital. The condition of the passenger in the car who was shot has not been released.

Graziano described Burbage as “tired,” “hungry,” “desperate” and “subhuman,” but said she did not call the search a “manhunt” because Burbage was a “coward.”


Information from WCIV’s Matthew Sockol, Ian Kayanja and Bailey Wright was used in this report.

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