Slain canine officer honored
Police often call for a dog to check a crime scene for explosives or discarded guns. During Rocco's years on the force, investigators knew the eight-year-old German shepherd and his handler, Officer Phil Lerza, were on the scene before they ever saw man or dog.
"His bark was so high-pitched. . . . You knew it was Rocco and Phil coming," said Officer Daniel Paga, who was trained in K-9 work alongside Lerza.
Page was among those who spoke at the dog's 45-minute funeral Friday morning at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh.
Lerza received stitches for a stab wound to the shoulder. Two other officers also were injured.
Officers from across the state joined to show their respect for Rocco, as did numerous Pittsburgh officials.
At 10 minutes before 11 a.m., a bagpipe player led the procession in. Behind him were an officer carrying a photo of Rocco, a second officer carrying a flag, and a third holding Rocco's cremated remains. The Lerza family followed.
Officer Jeffrey Deschon praised Rocco for taking the fatal blows last week. "I thank Rocco for giving Phil [Lerza] that opportunity to take control of the situation. . . . There is a possibility that maybe Phil would not be here," he said.
Rocco died after he contracted pneumonia following two surgeries to repair a stab wound sustained while he helped to apprehend Rush.
Rush has been charged with killing the dog and injuring the officers. He is being held without bail at the Allegheny County Jail.