Fallen K-9 Officer Honored With Procession Past Handler’s Home, To Cemetery

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh Police K-9 Officer Rocco died Thursday night, two days after being stabbed as police tried to capture a suspect.

Rocco was brought out of the Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center in a box draped with an American flag as fellow K-9 officers lined up and their handlers saluted. Bagpipe music filled the cold night air.

A procession of flashing lights went past Rocco’s handler’s home before eventually making it to the cemetery.

Rocco was an 8-year-old German Shepard who was stabbed Tuesday night in a basement in Lawrenceville.

Police say convicted sex offender, 21-year-old John Rush, stabbed him with a six-inch knife.

Rocco lost a kidney and his spine was damaged.

He appeared to be doing better Thursday morning, according to Dr. Julie Compton, who said Rocco recognized his handler, Officer Phil Lerza.

But the dog took a turn in the afternoon, developing pneumonia and more bleeding.

Despite surgeries and transfusions and prayers, Cmdr. Eric Holmes says Rocco passed away naturally at 6:17 p.m.

There were tears and hugs Thursday night. People placed flowers outside the veterinary hospital.

Watch Heather Abraham’s report:

Rush could now face a third-degree felony for Rocco’s death.

Mayor Bill Peduto has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff Friday.

This is not the first time a Pittsburgh Police K-9 officer has been killed in the line of duty. A K-9 officer named Aulf died in 2008 after being shot.

The Pittsburgh Police force had 22 K-9 officers before Rocco’s death.

Watch Sarah Arbogast’s report:

Hero Police Dog Stabbed In Lawrenceville Dies (1/30/14)
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