Sunday, December 21, 2014

Pittsburgh police K-9 stabbed to death

A Pittsburgh police K-9 that was stabbed during an arrest earlier this week died of his injuries Thursday night.

Rocco, an 8-year-old German shepherd, was wounded Tuesday while helping take an armed suspect into custody in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. He has been credited with saving the lives of his handler and two other officers on the scene.

In the days following, Rocco underwent two surgeries and several blood transfusions. Despite the efforts, the K-9 officer shortly before 6:15 p.m. went into cardiac arrest and succumbed to his injuries at the Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty Emergency Center. Rocco had been a member of the force since 2008.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said in a statement he was “saddened” to hear of Rocco’s passing. “He served this city faithfully and paid the ultimate price in the line of duty in service of the residents of our city,” Peduto said. “His brave actions very possibly spared the lives of two other officers. My thoughts and prayers are with his fellow officers and the entire Pittsburgh Police Bureau.”

Peduto ordered all city buildings to fly flags at half-staff in honor of the departed dog. 

Rocco was allegedly stabbed by wanted sex offender John Rush, 21. Rush is accused of Tuesday night breaking away from an Allegheny County sheriff's official who tried to place the suspect under arrest.

A neighbor a short time later called 911 to report a suspicious man lurking near a home on the 3700 block of Butler Street. Police said they found Rush hiding in the building’s basement, where he again resisted arrest.

Rush allegedly swung with a pocket knife, stabbing the dog and an officer, who escaped with a minor wound. Two other officers also suffered non-life-threatening injuries during the struggle.

Rush was imprisoned on his outstanding warrants at the Allegheny County Jail, where he was held without bond. He was in addition charged with aggravated assault, burglary, resisting arrest, disarming an officer and possessing instruments of crime.

A police procession escorted Rocco's body from the hospital Thursday night. He will be laid to rest with honors.


Contact Alex Wigglesworth at 215-854-2305 or awigglesworth@philly.com. Follow @phila_lex on Twitter.

Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillynews on Twitter.

Alex Wigglesworth PHILLY.COM
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