FITCHBURG, MASS. (WHDH) - A standoff in Fitchburg ended after an armed suspect was found dead by a police drone, according to authorities, following the death of a State Police K9.
K9 Frankie, a 10-year-old Belgian Malinois, was killed Tuesday during an attempt to apprehend the suspect, 38-year-old Matthew Mack.
Mack had reportedly been wanted on warrants charging him with several firearms offenses as well as Accessory After the Fact, according to State Police Colonel Christopher Mason.
The standoff first started after police confirmed Mack’s whereabouts at a triple-decker home on Oliver Street Tuesday morning, and attempted to make contact with him. When he allegedly refused to leave the house, State Police Special Tactical Operations and assets came because officials believed Mack to be armed.
State Police negotiators later had multiple conversations with the suspect, according to Mason, as well as with members of his family, all to try and persuade him to surrender.
Throughout the standoff, police reportedly never fired at Mack, but did fire tear gas into the home to try and drive him out.
Police also believed Mack held a woman hostage at one point, but later let her go before 2:50 p.m., when he was seen at a rear exit of the building.
In an attempt to apprehend him, police said Sgt. David Stucenski and K9 Frankie approached the area, only to be fired upon by the suspect. Stucenski was not injured, but Frankie was struck before Mack then ran back into the house. The police dog was immediately evacuated and later pronounced dead at an animal hospital in Westminster.
Negotiators were not able to make contact with Mack after the shooting and, at one point, witnesses told 7NEWS a single shot could be heard from the inside of the building.
Around 5:20 p.m., police launched a drone and found the suspect lying motionless inside the home. Officers later entered and confirmed that the man appeared to have died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
In his statement, Mason said Frankie is believed to be the first State Police K9 killed in the line of duty. The police dog officer would have turned 11 next month and had been with the department for nearly nine years.
“Frankie had every trait we seek in good law enforcement officers – canine or human,” Mason said during a press conference. “Intelligence, immense courage and dedication to protecting the public. He was as loyal a partner as any trooper ever had.”
The K9 was a highly decorated member of the police force, receiving the Medal of Valor in 2017 with Sgt. Stucenski, among other accolades.
Frankie was transported by Fitchburg EMS to an animal hospital on Tuesday, making it what Mason called “the first instance of such emergency care made possible by Nero’s Law,” which was recently signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker.
The law allows first responders in Massachusetts to treat and transport injured police dogs to veterinary hospitals, and was named after the K9 partner of slain Yarmouth Police Sgt. Sean Gannon.
“When one of our K9s pass, our K9s have a saying – ‘free time,'” Mason said. “It means these brave dogs who work so hard to protect the rest of us have earned their eternal peace. Free time and godspeed, Frankie.”
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