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Hero Down: Jefferson County Sheriff’s K9 Graffit Fatally Shot By Fleeing Suspect

By Holly Matkin and Sandy Malone

Jefferson County, CO – Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) K9 Graffit died in the line of duty on Monday after being shot while trying to apprehend a fleeing suspect.

Officials said that Golden Police Department (GPD) officers responded to assist the Colorado School of Mines campus police at about 12:15 a.m. on Feb. 13 near 19th Street and Elm Street in Golden, KUSA reported.

Police said the officers were responding to a parked vehicle with the driver who was unresponsive and slumped over the steering wheel.

Officers tried to wake up the driver and when he eventually became alert, he tried to drive slowly away and swerved into oncoming traffic, KUSA reported.

GPD said the suspect stopped a short time later at 19th Street and Tangent and flopped back over the steering wheel.

So, authorities said the officers woke him up again, KUSA reported.

That was when the driver began ramming the officers’ patrol vehicles with his car in an attempt to get away, according to police.

Officers ultimately broke the driver’s window and put the vehicle in park, KUSA reported.

But when officer tried to take the driver into custody, he escaped and fled on foot, running eastbound on 19th Street.

Police said the suspect turned and pointed a handgun at officers as he fled into a nearby wooded area, KUSA reported.

A shelter-in-place order was issued for the Colorado School of Mines campus and officers set up a perimeter and searched for the suspect, according to authorities.

Golden police said deputies brought JCSO K9 Graffit over to assist them in the search, KUSA reported.

Police said the K9 was released and given the command by his deputy handler to apprehend the suspect.

That was when the suspect opened fire on law enforcement officers and fatally shot the K9 hero, KUSA reported.

A sheriff’s deputy returned fire and the JCSO Regional SWAT Team responded to the scene to continue the manhunt, according to the press release.

Golden police said the suspect came out of hiding and surrendered to authorities at about 5:54 a.m. on Monday morning, KUSA reported.

The gunman has since been identified as 29-year-old Eduardo Armando Romero, according to KUSA.

Investigators said forensic analysis confirmed the bullet that killed K9 Graffit was fired by Romero’s gun.

Romero is being held on suspicion of aggravated cruelty to animals, felony menacing, prohibited use of weapons, criminal impersonation, criminal mischief, resisting arrest, motor vehicle theft, vehicular eluding, obstructing police or fire dog, driving under the influence, and driving under restraint, KUSA reported.

The deputy-involved shooting is being investigated by the Colorado School of Mines Police Department and the First Judicial District Attorney’s Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT).

K9 Graffit, an eight-year-old German shepherd, had been a member of the JCSO since he was just six months old, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.

He served his community as a patrol and narcotics detection K9, and was responsible for numerous apprehensions, KUSA reported.

“This morning our beloved K9 Graffit was draped in an American flag and escorted by a formal law enforcement procession,” the JCSO tweeted on Monday afternoon. “Graffit is one of us… he is our family, and we are heartbroken that he made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.”

“We’ve always known Graffit was brave; today he proved a hero,” the sheriff’s office said in an earlier post. “RIP Good Boy. We will miss you.”

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office in the loss of K9 Graffit.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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