Law enforcement officers never know which way a domestic violence search warrant will go. They do their best to be prepared for all scenarios, but sometimes suspects make unexpected decisions that officers have to react to.
At 10: 30 p.m., K9 Max and his handler joined the St. Joseph Police Department's Special Response Team to execute a search warrant. The domestic abuse search warrant was for 24-year-old Valdez McDonald.
The suspect locked himself inside the home. According to officers, the warrant was for a third-degree assault charge.
McDonald allegedly beat his mother with a two-by-four in the back of the head. He also is accused of slamming her head against a wall.
Officers attempted to talk with McDonald, but he took the opportunity to run out the house's back door. He did not make it very far before he was faced with K9 Max and his handler SJPD Officer Lucas Winder.
Max and Winder chased after McDonald, who fired on the pair. K9 Max was injured fatally by the gunshot.
He was taken to Kansas City to an emergency vet but died there of his injuries. McDonald was arrested.
Armed criminal action was added to his original charges. The K9 had been with 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. We extend our deepest sympathies to his handler and partner, Officer Lucas Winder. Max made the ultimate sacrifice and we are eternally grateful.”SJPD
According to St. Joseph Post, Max's handler Officer Winder said that it "was like taking your best friend and kid to work every day."
“It’s funny because my wife or someone else would try and talk to him, he would just laser-beam focus on me. You could just tell our bond was just there. Unbreakable. It was beautiful. The kid was always there for me.”Officer Winder
He also said each day with Max was a blessing and reiterated that he was grateful for their time together. Max's memorial on July 9 has hundred of people in attendance.
K9 officers are not just a dog to their handlers and their departments. They are very much so a part of the team, a trusted member who they rely on. It is clear that Max will be missed at SJPD.