Community celebrates life of K-9 Santos, killed in line of duty
Hundreds of people gathered Wednesday for a special memorial for a Wake County K9 officer killed in the line of duty.
K-9 Santos lost his life last month when he was accidentally shot while helping chase a suspect through a dark, wooded area near a Raleigh neighborhood.
The Wake County Sheriff’s Office says K-9 Santos played an integral role in keeping the community safe and his loss has left a profound impact.
“He's just an extended member of the family. When it was time to go to work, he knew how to roll his sleeves up like everybody else and get out and do the job,” Sheriff Willie Rowe said. “He died doing what he does best. That's serving Wake County.”
Santos joined the sheriff’s office in 2016, making him the longest serving K-9 there.
Knightdale Police Chief Lawrence Capps said his officers stopped a suspect near the Carrington Woods neighborhood. K-9 Santos and his handler were tracking the suspect when a Knightdale officer accidentally fired a shot, hitting the dog.
“In the blink of an eye, my heart was broken,” Santos’ handler Maria Fuentes said tearfully, while reading his eulogy. She was there the night he died.
Sgt. Jason Bordeaux said handlers and their K-9s have a special bond.
“We go to work, they're with us. We go home, they're with us. 24 hours a day, we're with the dog,” he said.
Fuentes said she was proud of the work she accomplished with Santos. “Santos and I were a great team,” she said.
To quality for K-9 duty, dogs go through a rigorous 16-week training program, Bordeaux said.