Fallen Hero: K9 Officer Max shot and killed after police respond to domestic violence call

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ST. JOSEPH, MO- K9 Officer Max, of the St. Joseph Police Department (SJPD), was fatally shot in the line of duty on June 30th, when he was brought in to help officers responding to a call of domestic violence in south St. Joseph. 

Authorities stated that officers with the Special Response Team (SRT) were called out to 5108 Barbara Street around 10:30 p.m. on the night of June 30th to execute a search warrant on domestic abuse.

When responding officers attempted to breach the back door, the suspect, who was armed, ran out another door of the house and fatally shot Max during the escape. 

Max was a 2-year member of the force and served on the SRT assisting in calls to help apprehend dangerous felons. He was partnered with Officer Lucas Winder. In press release, the department said:

“Max performed his duties heroically and protected the lives of others on scene.”

According to reports, the suspect, 24-year-old Valdez McDonald, had barricaded himself inside. Police said McDonald was wanted on a third-degree assault charge for allegedly beating his mother, slamming a two-by-four into the back of her head and smashing her against the wall.

K9 Max was rushed to an emergency veterinarian in Kansas City, but died of his injuries. McDonald has since be arrested and charged with armed criminal action in addition to the domestic charges he was already facing.

Buchanan County Prosecutor Ron Holiday stated that the maximum sentence for the combined charges could be 19 years in prison. 

In a Facebook post on July 1st, SJPD wrote:

“It is with great sorrow we must say goodbye to Max, our loyal and courageous teammate and friend who gave his life in the line of duty. We extend our deepest sympathies to his handler and partner, Officer Lucas Winder. Max made the ultimate sacrifice and we are eternally grateful.”

The St. Joseph Post reported that Officer Winder said that working alongside K9 Max was “like taking your best friend and kid to work every day.” He added:

“It’s funny because my wife or someone else would try and talk to him, he would just laser-beam focus on me. You could just tell our bond was just there. Unbreakable. It was beautiful. The kid was always there for me.”

Officer Winder said that every day he worked with K9 Max was a blessing and that he is grateful for the time they had together. SJPD Police Chief Chris Connally said whether it be two legs or four, Max was one of their own and losing him was a very painful experience. He added:

“When we lost Max, we lost an officer and it hurts…he was one of our own.”

Connally said Max lived out his sworn duty as a St. Joseph police officer right until the very end. He added:

“We as police officers are sworn to protect and serve and Max did exactly that. As trained and true to his mission, he did his job and while doing it likely saved our officers and maybe even the perpetrator.”

Winder said the time that has followed Max’s death has been a “day-to-day battle,” but he thanks the community for the outpouring of support he has received. K9 Max’s memorial service was held on July 9th. He added:

“I couldn’t even tell you the amount of calls and texts I’ve received. Not just from this jurisdiction, but nationwide. It’s been beautiful to see everyone come together.”

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Officer Down: Bakersfield PD K9 murdered after being shot by suspect in a stolen vehicle

April 28th, 2021

BAKERSFIELD, CA – According to a press release, a Bakersfield Police Department K9 passed away on the evening of April 27th after reportedly being shot by a suspect involved an allegedly stolen vehicle incident that turned into a pursuit.

Officer Down: Bakersfield PD K9 murdered after being shot by suspect in a stolen vehicle
K9 Jango – BPD

Officials say that on the evening of April 27th at approximately 8:43 p.m., Bakersfield Police officers attempted to conduct a stop along Highway 58 regarding a vehicle that had been previously reported stolen.

The driver of the vehicle reportedly refused to stop for officers, and allegedly drove off of the highway and crashed into a chain link fence, which rendered the vehicle inoperable thereafter. The suspect was said to have then fled they disabled vehicle on foot.

Officer Down: Bakersfield PD K9 murdered after being shot by suspect in a stolen vehicle
K9 Jango – BPD

The Kern County Sheriff’s Office reportedly offered aerial support to help locate the suspect, which the subject was reportedly found in the backyard of a home located within the 2000 block of Feliz Drive.

A BPD K9 handler along with his partner, identified as K9 Jango, were said to have approached the suspect located in the backyard of the residence and the suspect reportedly opened fire.

Unfortunately, K9 Jango was struck by the gunfire, and the K9 reportedly succumbed to his injuries after being transported to an emergency veterinarian hospital.

Officer Down: Bakersfield PD K9 murdered after being shot by suspect in a stolen vehicle
K9 Jango – BPD

Following the gunfire from the suspect, two officers on site were said to have returned fire on the man. Medical aid was also provided to the suspect, but the individual reportedly died at the scene.

BPD officials related that the incident is still under investigation and more details will be released later on down the road.

It was noted that a firearm was recovered from the suspect and that both officers who discharged their firearms were wearing body-worn cameras at the time.

The name of the deceased suspect involved in the incident has not been released as of this writing.

Officer Down: Bakersfield PD K9 murdered after being shot by suspect in a stolen vehicle
K9 Jango – BPD

According to K9 Jango’s online profile from the BPD’s website, the following is noted about his work with the department: 

“Officer Mueller and Jango became partners in March of 2017. Jango is from the Netherlands and his commands are given in Czech. Jango is training to locate and apprehend criminals and also trained in explosive detection. When off duty, Jango loves to chase tennis balls and beg for treats.”

Officer Down: Bakersfield PD K9 murdered after being shot by suspect in a stolen vehicle
K9 Jango – BPD

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We at Law Enforcement Today recently reported on proposed legislation that has been drafted in Massachusetts that aims to have police K9s injured on duty to be treated and transported by EMS responders. 

Here’s that previous report. 

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BOSTON, MA – A bill drafted in Massachusetts aims to see police K9s that wind up getting injured in the course of their duties transported by EMS responders.

The bill in question is S.1431, also known as “Nero’s Law,” which was reportedly introduced by Massachusetts Representative Steven Xiarhos.

The name “Nero’s Law” comes from a police K9 bearing the same namesake, who was seriously injured in a 2018 incident where K9 Nero survived, but his handler Yarmouth Police Sergeant Sean Gannon did not.

If this legislation were to come to fruition, it would afford what is described as “humane transportation of K9 partners,” by way of EMS first responders. Effectively, this bill, if passed, could enable expedited transport to needed veterinary services for K9s injured on duty.

Reportedly service dogs, accelerant-detection dogs and search-and-rescue dogs will also be included in the bill’s coverage.

K9s that wind up falling under EMS care following an incident would allow EMS responders the authority to perform life-saving measures like “opening and manually maintaining an airway,” “giving mouth-to-snout or mouth-to-barrier ventilation,” “administering oxygen” and “immobilizing fractures.”

The bill further notes that “an EMS provider may require a member of the law enforcement Department or agency accompany the police dog during transport.”

The MSPCA, which is an organization that promotes the ethical treatment of animals and things of that nature, made mention of the incident with which this bill is inspired by:

 “The town of Yarmouth suffered an incredible tragedy in April of 2018 when Sergeant Sean Gannon was killed in the line of duty. Also injured in this vicious attack was Gannon’s canine partner, Nero.”

“Nero suffered life-threatening injuries and was unable to be rescued due to existing state law that prohibits working animals from being treated or transported by emergency personnel.”

“Instead, Nero had to wait nearly four hours before a retired K9 police officer could arrive on scene to retrieve Nero and help with his injuries before he was driven to the emergency veterinary hospital.”

Bill sponsor Rep. Xiarhos happened to have been Sergeant Gannon’s deputy police chief during the date of the incident where Sergeant Gannon was killed and K9 Nero was injured.

On April 12th, Rep. Xiarhos called for the bill to be passed in light of the third anniversary of Sergeant Gannon’s death:

“I will never forget the sight of K9 Nero covered in blood and fighting for his life after being rescued by the brave police officers on that horrible day.”

“K9 Nero never gave up trying to protect his fallen hero. Now it is time for us to fight for him and all the devoted police dogs across our Commonwealth who serve and protect their handlers and all of us, now and for generations to come.”

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