COVINGTON, TN (abc24.com) - After a pit bull attack on a deputy and his K-9 and a fugitive on the loose, Tipton County deputies had one wild weekend and it won't be over until their wanted man is behind bars.
Deputy BJ Williams said his K-9 partner Ero is like a child to him. "You spend 24 hours a day with them, seven days a week," he told abc24.com. Deputy Williams said one man almost made him lose his partner and best friend. That man is Fred Masters, a known drug offender.
Williams said, "(Masters) has several counts of promotion of meth and he loves to run, we knew that from the get go."
Investigators had a tip that Masters was manufacturing methamphetamine from his Mason, TN home. Investigators tried to sneak up on him late Saturday, March 3, but Masters and his girlfriend, Sharon Hebert, were outside standing near their garage. "We unfortunately approached on the wrong side of the residence," Williams said.
Deputies say Masters threw open the gate of his chain link fence in an act of desperation, setting free an angry pit bull, and Masters took off running. Williams said, "The dog came out of the fence barking, ears back, full speed."
Masters' neighbor, James Eyster, said, "She was a big dog, stood about (three feet) tall. I know if she jumped on me she would almost knock me over, she was a big dog."
Williams said the angry dog went running toward an investigator but Ero jumped in front. He tried to break his K-9 free but the pit had his teeth in Ero's hind leg. "The pit bull left a nice bruise where it hit me and tried to climb me like a ladder and grab my throat, there were two to three times I tried to get separation between the dogs."
The deputy shot and killed the attacking dog. Even Masters' neighbors say the deputy had no choice. Eyster said, "Anybody who will use a dog like that, it's the same as using a gun."
Investigators said they found an active meth lab in the attic. Hebert is in custody. If anyone knows where Masters is they are asked to call the Tipton County Sheriff's Office at (901) 476-4411.