St. Clair Shores, MI – St. Clair Shores Police K9 Axe was murdered in the line of duty while tracking a suspect on Nov. 4.
The St. Clair Shores Police Department responded to the Lakeland Manor Banquet Hall at about 6:30 p.m. for a report of a man with a gun, the Detroit News reported.
There were approximately 70 people at the banquet hall attending a baby shower at the time of the incident, according to WDIV.
The armed man ignored commands from police when they arrived, and fled the scene, the Detroit News reported.
The St. Clair PD deployed K9 Axe to track and apprehend the suspect.
The suspect opened fire on K9 Axe with a handgun, and the police dog was hit, WDIV reported.
St. Clair Shores police officers returned fire and fatally shot the suspect, later identified as 29-year-old Theoddeus Gray of Detroit.
K9 Axe was transported to an emergency veterinarian where he was pronounced dead, WDIV reported.
The fallen K9 hero joined the St. Clair Shores PD in 2016 as a donation from a local philanthropist, Fred Maloof, according to the C&G Newspapers. Maloof died later the same year at the age of 95.
K9 Axe was a German Shepherd imported from Germany for the police department.
He was named for Navy SEAL Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Axelson, who was shot and killed in Afghanistan in 2005.
Axelson was a 29-year-old from Cupertino, California, whose SEAL team was ambushed by Taliban forces, according to C&G Newspapers.
St. Clair Shores Police Officer Tom Price was partnered with K9 Axe and said it was fitting that the K9 had been named after a veteran who was killed in action.
Officer Price said that K9 Axe’s benefactor, Maloof, was a veteran, as was his own grandfather, who served during World War II.
“Sad news out of St. Clair Shores tonight,” Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard posted on his Facebook page. “St. Clair Shores K-9 Officer Axe was killed in the line of duty. Please pray for the department and his partner. As always, we are eternally grateful for the men, women & canines that serve to protect our communities. Axe paid the ultimate price tonight.”
The Shelby Township Police Department in Michigan also expressed condolences on its Facebook page.
“Our thoughts are with our brothers and sisters at the St. Clair Shores Police Department, who lost a partner tonite,” the department posted. “Rest easy, K9 Officer Axe.”
"Axe has passed," St. Clair Shores Mayor Kip Walby said, according to the Macomb Daily. "We are very saddened that a valued member of the St. Clair Shores police family has died. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and the police department in general."
Our thoughts and prayers are with the St. Clair Shores Police Department and Officer Tom Price in the loss of K9 Axe.
Rest easy, hero. Your life mattered.