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Tucson Police K-9 killed in the line of duty during shooting

Tucson Police K-9 killed in the line of duty during shooting

CREATED Dec 13, 2012 - UPDATED: Dec 13, 2012

Reporter: Justin Schecker
Web Producer: Mekita Rivas, Sara Wright, Ina Ronquillo

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Tucson Police are investigating an officer-involved shooting that resulted in the death of a 53-year-old man as well as a Tucson Police K-9 dog named "Ivan".

Sgt. Chris Widmer tells KGUN9 that on December 12, officers responded to the Domino's Pizza located at 5460 East Speedway in reference to a report of a carjacking.  A victim told 911 that a man had taken his vehicle and wallet at gunpoint. A description of the vehicle was quickly broadcast to responding units.

A few moments later, an officer spotted the vehicle near the intersection of 5th Street and Alvernon Way. The officer attempted to stop the vehicle.

The suspect drove off at a high rate of speed at which time a pursuit was initiated. The suspect continued to evade police, ran red lights and drove onto oncoming traffic several times in order to pass vehicles ahead of him.

The vehicle drove through the front yard of a residence in the 500 block of North Treat, causing extensive damage to a light pole, a wrought iron fence and landscape. The chase continued and ended in an alley located north of 2nd Second Street and east of Stewart Avenue.

The suspect ran from the vehicle and was followed by several officers, including a K-9 officer and his service dog. The suspect ran into the front yard of a residence in the 2900 block of East 2nd Street.

Officer Chris Fenoglio and his dog "Ivan" immediately began searching the area starting at the residence where the suspect was last observed. The suspect emerged from the home brandishing a large caliber revolver, which was initially down at his side. He then pointed the handgun to his head.

"Ivan" was released and bit the suspect on his left arm.  The suspect turned the gun downward and shot "Ivan" once at close range.

The suspect began to move again with the handgun in hand.  Officers gave the suspect commands to drop the weapon, but he refused to comply.

Officers Fenoglio, Matthew Merz, Jason Kerns and Jon Collamore all fired multiple shots at the suspect striking him numerous times.

The suspect was pronounced deceased at the scene. His is name is being withheld at this time pending next of kin notification.

"Ivan" was transported to Valley Animal Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries following extensive life saving measures.

Officer Chris Fenoglio is a 13-year veteran of the Tucson Police Department and is assigned to the Service Dog Unit. Officer Matthew Merz is a 13-year veteran of the Tucson Police Department and is also assigned to the Service Dog Unit. Officer Jason Kerns is a 5-year veteran of the Tucson Police Department and is assigned to Operations Division Midtown. Officer Jon Collamore is a 9-year veteran of the Tucson Police Department and is also assigned to Operations Division Midtown.

The investigation is ongoing.

Based upon the outpouring of public support, the Tucson Police Foundation has established a mechanism by which donations can be made to provide assistance to the Tucson Police Department K-9 Unit. Donations can be made on the Tucson Police Foundation website, www.tucsonpolicefoundation.org.
 
Chief of Police Roberto Villasenor issued the following statement:

"An incident like this demonstrates the extreme danger faced by the officers of the Tucson Police Department, both human and canine, on a daily basis.  In the course of a few short weeks, we have had Sgt. Robert Carpenter shot in the head by an assailant, and now we have K-9 Ivan shot and killed while confronting a violent armed felon.  Ivan was a fairly new partner for Ofc. Chris Fenoglio, and he was demonstrating excellent promise to become an outstanding canine partner.

Canine partners are more than just service animals to the family of their handlers, and to the members of the department.  Through their bravery, loyalty, devotion and sense of duty, they endear themselves to us and hold a special place in our hearts.  Ivan will be sorely missed by this agency, and in my opinion by the community at large.  If there is any solace to take from this tragedy, it is that Ivan gave his life honorably while doing what he was trained to do...protect the lives of the officers and citizens of this City, and help remove violent individuals from the streets of Tucson."