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'A great dog to be around': K-9 community remembering fallen Jefferson County police dog

Posted at 6:27 PM, Feb 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-13 20:44:24-05

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — A Jefferson County police dog is being called a hero.

Deputies say K-9 Graffit was shot and killed by a suspect at the Colorado School of Mines.

The shooting happened near 19th and Elm just after midnight Sunday.

Officials say they saw an unconscious man inside a vehicle. He woke up and started driving away. Officers saw him slump over again and when they tried to wake him up, they say he started to drive into patrol cars.

The driver then got out of the car and officers said he then pointed a gun at an officer. The area was told to shelter in place.

Graffit was released to help track the suspect. That's when officials say the suspect shot and killed the dog.

A deputy then returned fire but did not hit the suspect. The suspect surrendered just before 5 a.m. Monday and was taken into custody.

The suspect, identified as Eduardo Armando Romero, 29, was booked into the Jefferson County Detention Facility on several charges including one felony count of aggravated animal cruelty.

Denver7 spoke to Officer Travis McKenna with the Arvada Police Department who has trained with the fallen K-9 and his handler in the past. He said the community is coming together for one another during this difficult time.

Police: Armed suspect on Colorado School of Mines campus allegedly killed K-9

"He was always just a great dog to be around. He always was a hard worker and he knew when it was time to do his job, but also knew when it was time that he could hang out and just kind of chill out," McKenna said.

McKenna said the K9 community is very tight-knit.

"Most of us in the metro area, we all know each other," he said.

McKenna attended a procession Monday morning honoring the fallen K-9. He said these dogs are an invaluable resource for law enforcement.

"With our dogs, we use them as a locating tool for any of the wanted suspects or anything like that. They're also a great de-escalation tool. A lot of times we'll have subjects that are amped up, they want to fight. They want to kind of raise the tempo of things. As soon as the dog comes out of the car, or anything like that, it typically will calm things down," McKenna explained.

He said the dogs usually go through a 12-week training and it doesn't stop there.

"From there on out, at least once every week, typically for us is our training day. So we go out once a week and train with other agencies and other K-9 units around us," he said.

McKenna knows first-hand how special the bond between a police dog and its handler is.

He has his own K-9 named Hulk, who he's been working alongside with for a couple of years.

"He does patrol functions and also odor searches for guns and shell cases," McKenna said. "It's almost like having an extension of a family that you get to bring to work with you every day. For me, I probably spend more time with him than I do with my other dog at home or sometimes my family at home."

That closeness makes Monday's loss all the harder. But McKenna said he finds comfort in the way the community came together to honor one of their own.

"It was nice to see the outpouring of support from not only the K9 community but from all the different agencies," he said.

The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office has set up a memorial for K9 Graffit at the Memorial Garden at the intersection of Jefferson County Parkway and Weimer Street. The memorial vehicle will be parked at the memorial garden for a week and the public is welcome to visit, the sheriff's office said.


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