St. Joseph, MO – St. Joseph Police Department (SJPD) K9 Max was killed in the line of duty while pursuing an armed domestic violence suspect on June 30.
The three-year-old German shepherd and the SJPD Special Response Team were dispatched to 5108 Barbara Street at approximately 10:30 p.m. to help execute a domestic abuse search warrant, KQTV reported.
The suspect, 24-year-old Valdez McDonald, had barricaded himself inside, according to the Hays Post.
Police said McDonald was wanted on a third-degree assault charge for allegedly beating his mother, slamming a two-by-four into the back of her head, and smashing her head against a wall.
While officers were trying to negotiate with the barricaded suspect, he ended up escaping out the back door of the home, the Hays Post reported.
McDonald was confronted by K9 Max and his handler, SJPD Officer Lucas Winder, who began chasing him, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
The fleeing suspect opened fire on them, fatally wounding K9 Max.
K9 Max was rushed to an emergency veterinarian in Kansas City, where he succumbed to his injuries, the Hays Post reported.
McDonald has since been arrested and charged with armed criminal action in addition to the domestic assault charges he was already facing.
K9 Max served the SJPD for two years.
“It is with…great sorrow we must say goodbye to Max, our loyal and courageous teammate and friend who gave his life in the line of duty,” the department said in a Facebook post on July 1. “We extend our deepest sympathies to his handler and partner, Officer Lucas Winder. Max made the ultimate sacrifice and we are eternally grateful.”
Officer Winder said that working alongside K9 Max “was like taking your best friend and kid to work every day,” the St. Joseph Post reported.
“It’s funny, because my wife or someone else would try and talk to him, he would just laser-beam focus on me,” Officer Winder explained. “You could just tell our bond was just there. Unbreakable. It was beautiful. The kid was always there for me.”
He said that every day he worked with K9 Max was a blessing, and that he is grateful for the time they had together, the St. Joseph Post reported.
K9 Max’s memorial service was held on July 9.
End of Watch Sunday, June 30th, 2021: K9 Max was shot and killed by a suspect while members of the St. Joseph Police Department’s Special Response Team executed a domestic violence-related search warrant at a home on July 30th, 2021. pic.twitter.com/tS5DBO4pOp
— HelpAndReward (@John99239909) July 13, 2021
Dozens of K-9s line the sidewalk as the funeral service for St. Joseph Police K-9 Max gets underway.
Max was killed in the line of duty on June 30. pic.twitter.com/i4RqdGXrAV
— St Joseph Post (@StJosephPost) July 9, 2021
A memorial for Max is in the St Joseph Police Department lobby. I spoke with police and a witness today about what happened last night. We will have more tonight. pic.twitter.com/qBrUA2Ir8U
— Morgan Riddell (@NPNowRiddell) July 1, 2021
Both the St. Joseph Police and Fire Departments are warming up on the field for our Police vs. Fire softball game!
Follow along for score updates to see who takes the trophy, named in honor of our dear K9 friend, Max. pic.twitter.com/jW8rzzozzN
— St. Joseph Mustangs (@StJoeMustangs) July 10, 2021
Our thoughts and prayers are with the St. Joseph Police Department and Officer Winder in the loss of K9 Max.