PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Hundreds showed up to mourn the loss of Pittsburgh Police K-9 officer Rocco, killed in the line of duty.
At 10 a.m. Friday, a motorcade made its way through the city, starting at the police training facility on Washington Boulevard and eventually stopping at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland, where Rocco’s funeral was held.
Pittsburghers lined the streets on the cold morning to watch as the motorcade went by.
“I have a dog and it’s heartbreaking,” said Carla Richards, “that somebody would do this to an animal, you know, he was defending his handler and everything, but it’s still sad.”
The procession into Soldiers and Sailors Hall included a large photo of Rocco, an American flag, Rocco’s ashes, and Rocco’s handler Officers Phil Lerza with his family at his side.
Inside the hall, hundreds of police officers, K-9s and civilians showed up to pay their respects to Rocco — but also to pay tribute to all K-9 officers.
“I really want to honor this dog,” said Bob Jablonowski. “This is an incredible ceremony and I really think it’s something that makes Pittsburgh someplace special. I mean, this dog died in defense, you know, of his fellow police officers. And anybody that has an animal, just appreciates it. It’s such a great loss — it’s almost like losing an immediate member of your family.”
Many traffic routes were closed down during the procession.
Mayor Bill Peduto’s office also announced Friday that the Pittsburgh Foundation is taking donations for The Officer Rocco K-9 Memorial Fund, which will be used to benefit police K-9 units. To find out more and donate, visit: community.pittsburghfoundation.org