Fallen N. Charleston K-9 Officer Mojo laid to rest

North Charleston K-9 Officer Mojo was killed in the Thursday night crash on Rivers Ave. (Source: Nicole Brown)
North Charleston K-9 Officer Mojo was killed in the Thursday night crash on Rivers Ave. (Source: Nicole Brown)

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The North Charleston Police K-9 officer killed in a crash was laid to rest Friday, one week after his death.

Law enforcement from across the Lowcountry paid their respects to Mojo, who died in the line of duty.

The service began at 2 p.m. at NewSpring Church at Ashley Phosphate & Dorchester Road after a motorcade transported Mojo's remains from a funeral home in West Ashley.

One Charleston County Sheriff's deputy who held lead the procession said he can't help but get tears in his eyes when he covers situations like this.

"I'm an animal lover. I've always had a dog my whole life," Charleston County Sheriff's Capt. Jim Woods said. "It really bothers me for something like this to happen."

Officer Mojo arrived at the church to a salute from officers, deputies and fellow K-9s officers.

"A K9, a lot of people look at it and say it's an animal, but to us it's not," Woods said. "That animal -- as people call it -- that K9 is just as much an officer as the rest of us. We're very honored to do it, but it breaks our heart to have to do this."

Keith Mckeown says he was out shopping for a refrigerator when he came across Mojo's funeral procession.

"It was pretty emotional. I've got three dogs at home and I know what our police do for us," he said.

The private funeral service had remarks from Chief Reggie Burgess and other presentations from others in the department. Cameras were not allowed inside.

"It hits all of us. It really tears at our hearts," Woods said. "These K9s are extremely dedicated. They do what they're instructed to do day in and day out. They're extremely loyal. This is a heartbreaking event."

Mojo's remains are expected to be returned to his handler, NCPD Officer Brandon VanAusdal, who was also injured in the crash.

Mojo was killed in a crash on Rivers Avenue Thursday night as they were responding to a reported burglary in progress. The Highway Patrol says the other motorist, a 37-year-old man admitted to a trooper that he had been drinking before he was involved in the crash.

Mojo was transported to an emergency veterinary clinic where he died overnight on Feb. 15 North Charleston Police Chief Reggie Burgess said.

Mojo served the North Charleston Police Department for five years. VanAusdal has been with the department since November 2011.

The crash happened the same night North Charleston Police officer Ryan MacCluen was killed in a separate crash on Ladson Road.

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