11 April 2022
Oxford, N.C. — A Granville County woman was shocked to discover that an armed man running from law enforcement was hiding in the crawl space under her home on Sunday – and had possibly been there for hours – before he fired on officers and left a K-9 dead.
Major had three years of service as a K-9 with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office. He and his handler Corporal Jamie Lariviere arrived at the residence after a report of a suspicious fire.
While investigating the fire, officers discovered William Darius Eichelberger, 21, hiding under the crawl space of Sarah Satterwhite’s home. Officials recognized him as a suspect who had escaped them after an armed robbery the day before.
Satterwhite is still shaken by the incident. She says hearing gunfire in person was a horrifying experience.
“Once I heard the gunfire, it just tore my nerves,” she said. “I went up the street crying.”
Satterwhite and her husband called 911 after they noticed someone had set a small fire in their backyard. They had also noticed a water bottle in their crawl space that hadn’t been there previously.
“I thought he might be under the house,” she said. “I am very nervous because he could have come inside at any time.”
Granville County called in other agencies to help, including members of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office. As the Special Response Team was attempting to clear the crawl space, they began taking gunfire.
During a shootout with Eichelberger, Major was hit and killed.
“I heard them say, ‘Man down!’ so I thought they had got him,” said Satterwhite. “But it was actually the dog he had shot.”
None of the other officers were injured. Eichelberger, who ultimately surrendered, was taken to the hospital and treated for minor injuries. Authorities recovered an assault-style rifle from underneath the home.
Eichelbeger faces nine felonies and is being held in jail on a $1 million bond.
Franklin County Sheriff’s Office planning memorial service for K-9 Major
“This is the first time we’ve ever experienced anything like this,” said Major Troy Wheless. “It’s a huge blow to the sheriff’s office and to Corporal Lariviere and his family.”
Major and Lariviere were partners – and family. Lariviere cared for the dog as his own and loved him.
“Major made this sacrifice to protect his handler and the other officers on the scene,” said Wheless.
Now, they are leaning on each other as they grieve the loss of Major.
“We’ll get through it,” he said. “We’ll get through it together.”
They plan to have a service to remember Major’s life and honor his sacrifice next week.