Fitchburg, MA – Massachusetts State Police (MSP) K9 Frankie was fatally shot in the line of duty on Tuesday while attempting to apprehend a barricaded armed suspect.
The incident began shortly before 9 a.m. on July 26, when the MSP’s Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section tracked down a fugitive who was wanted for accessory after the fact and firearms offenses in connection with a July 21 shooting, MSP Colonel Christopher Mason said in a press release.
The team developed information that 38-year-old Matthew Mack was inside a three-story, multi-family home located at 40 Oliver Street and began surveilling that location.
Troopers made verbal contact with the suspect, but he refused to exit the house, according to the Col. Mason.
“Based on information developed by Troopers indicating that MACK was currently armed, as well as current intelligence that indicated a propensity for violence, the Massachusetts State Police Special Tactical Operations responded to the scene at approximately noon and established tactical positions,” the colonel said.
MSP crisis negotiators also responded and proceeded to have multiple conversations with Mack “in an attempt to persuade him to surrender peacefully,” according to the press release.
Police also contacted Mack’s family during the standoff.
A woman the suspect had allegedly been holding hostage was released from the home at 2:50 p.m., WHDH reported.
Officers spotted the suspect standing by a back door to the house a moment later and moved in to apprehend him, Col. Mason said.
That’s when Mack allegedly opened fire on the team, hitting MSP K9 Frankie.
His handler, MSP Sergeant David Stucenski, was not struck by the gunman’s bullets.
The suspect retreated back into the house while police rushed the wounded K9 to a nearby ambulance.
K9 Frankie was then transported to Wachusett Animal Hospital in Westminster, where he was pronounced dead.
Troopers deployed a drone at 5:20 p.m. to try to glean information about Mack’s location in the home after he stopped speaking to negotiators.
“The drone made visual observation of the suspect deceased inside the house from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot,” Col. Mason said. “No police officers fired their weapons during this incident.”
The department confirmed K9 Frankie’s death later in the day.
“It is with tremendous sadness that I announce that a Massachusetts State Police K9 was killed in the line of duty today,” Col. Mason said. “Frankie was a highly decorated member of the Massachusetts State Police.”
The Belgian Malinois was one month shy of his 11th birthday and had been serving the MSP for approximately nine years.
K9 Frankie and Sgt. Stucenski received the state’s top law enforcement award – the Medal of Valor – during the George L. Hanna Awards for Bravery in 2017.
“They were honored for apprehending a hit-and-run suspect who, during a foot chase, turned and fired a shot at Sergeant Stucenski and Frankie as they pursued him on a Springfield street,” Col. Mason said. “The shot missed the Sergeant and Frankie and Frankie apprehended him.”
The duo also received the State Police Medal of Merit for the same incident.
K9 Frankie and Sgt. Stucenski also received three awards from the United States Police Canine Association “for evidence recovery, agility, and other law enforcement skills” in 2014.
“And only last month, our Department honored Sergeant Stucenski and Frankie and other members of the Special Tactical Operations Team for apprehending an armed child pornography suspect who had opened fire on them when they went to arrest him at a West Springfield motel in 2019,” Col. Mason added.
K9 Frankie’s death marked the first incident of an MSP K9 being killed in the line of duty.
He was also the first MSP K9 to be transported to the hospital via ambulance under the state’s Nero Law, which made such transports possible beginning just last year.
“Frankie had every trait we seek in a good law enforcement officer, canine or human: intelligence, immense courage, and dedication to protecting the public,” Col. Mason said. “He was as loyal a partner as any Trooper ever had.”
K9 Frankie was also a beloved member of Sgt. Stucenski’s family and the entire MSP family.
“He was, as much as any human of the member of the Department, one of us and part of us,” Col. Mason said, adding that his sacrifice “will never be forgotten.”
“When one of our K9s pass – until today, never in the line of duty – our K9 handlers have a saying. ‘Free Time,’” the colonel added. “It means that these brave dogs who work so hard to protect the rest of us have earned their eternal peace. Free time and Godspeed, Frankie.”
— Mass State Police (@MassStatePolice) July 26, 2022
Earlier today, Massachusetts State Police K-9 Frankie was shot in the line of duty during a mission with the STOP Team in Fitchburg. He was rushed to Wachusett Animal Hospital where he tragically died as a result of his injuries.https://t.co/MvRmR0LQva pic.twitter.com/hJ5HT9CsCc
— State Police Association of Massachusetts (@MSPTroopers) July 26, 2022
#BREAKING: MSP Colonel Mason confirms that @MassStatePolice K9 "Frankie" was shot and killed during an armed barricaded subject call on Oliver St in #Fitchburg.
K9 "Frankie"'s handler was uninjured.
K9 "Frankie" is a 2017 Medal of Valor recipient, along with many other awards. pic.twitter.com/jyDk2pGkQF
— Kevin Wiles, Jr (@kwilesjrphoto) July 26, 2022
HAPPENING NOW: A procession for Massachusetts State Police K9 Frankie who was shot in the line of duty today in Fitchburg. He’s being transported to Final Gift Pet Memorial Center in Cranston with full honors.
— Molly Levine (@levine_on_scene) July 27, 2022
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Massachusetts State Police and Sgt. Stucenski in the loss of K9 Frankie.