TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Tucson police remembered one of their own today. A gunman shot and killed police K-9 Ivan just over a month ago.
Thursday, officers held a memorial in front of the main police station downtown, at 270 S. Stone Ave.
Ivan was killed on Dec. 12 after police released him in order to detain an armed carjacker. After Ivan bit his arm, the man shot and killed the police K-9. Police say it was Ivan's third apprehension.
Ivan's handler, Officer Fornolio alongside his family, watched closely as officers took to the podium, speaking of Ivan not only as a police dog but as a member of Fornolio's family.
"There was that special bond. A very strong bond and they depend on each other when they're out working," TPD Lt. Fabian Pacheco tol
"Ivan is a living breathing partner to us, nightly," TPD Sgt. Chris Widmer told 9 On Your Side. "He was willing to put his life on the line."
"There were numerous commands given to him before and during the incident to drop the weapon and surrender and allow us to take him in custody," TPD Chief Roberto Villaseñor said on Dec. 12. "He wasn't listening."
"Dogs are willing to chase after armed suspects that we wouldn't necessarily do in that fashion," Widmer said. "We would obviously pursue these people, but the dog doesn't hesitate."
The entire department has mourned the loss of Ivan, Widmer said, but its been especially hard for the dog handlers.
"These guys spend more time with this dog then they do with their families sometimes," Widmer said. "Dogs go with them to work, go home with them. They're part of the family."
The Service Dog Unit carried Ivan's remains onto the Memorial Plaza stage. The veterinarian who treated Ivan the night of the shooting also spoke at the event.
The Tucson Police Officers Association set out to dedicate the dog park at Purple Heart Park in honor of Ivan.
Tucson Parks and Recreation commission has approved changing the name to "Ivan's Spot" and city council will have the final say at an upcoming meeting.