On Sept. 10, a Gwinnett Police SWAT K-9 was sent into a wooded area off Willow Trail Parkway in unincorporated Norcross to search for a suspect who had fled a stolen car as police were investigating gang activity area.
K-9 Blue found the suspect and officers heard a single shot. They quickly found the suspect and exchange of gunfire occurred. The officers then made a tragic discovery: K-9 Blue had been shot. He was taken to a vet, but died from his injuries. The suspect was also shot and died from his injuries.
K-9 Blue’s sacrifice was recognized by the Gwinnett Chamber on Wednesday as it held its annual Medal of Valor Awards ceremony at the Infinite Energy Forum in Duluth.
K-9 Blue, as well his handler, Cpl. William B. Webb, and fellow Gwinnett Police Cpls. Richard J. Lacey, Joshua V. Daunhauer, Caleb G. Jefferson, David S. Duren jointly received the Gold Medal of Valor Award, which is the highest award handed out at the ceremony.
“There’s no greater love than a man who lays down his life for his friends and there’s nothing better a K-9 can do than what he did,” Webb said. “He took a round that was meant for me so that’s the epitome of a K-9s valor right there. He took a bullet so none of us had to.”
The award was bittersweet for Webb, because K-9 Blue was his law enforcement partner and, as such, had become a member of his family. At the same time, he shared the award with his fellow officers who responded to the scene and participated in the search on the day K-9 Blue died.
“It’s hard again remembering the loss of such a great dog, but as I look at the men I serve with and they’re with their families safe, then it makes it easier,” Webb said. “It brings me comfort to know they went home because of what he sacrificed.”
Webb has stayed involved with police K-9s since Blue’s death, although he is not current partnered with a new dog. Not long as his four-legged partner died, Webb participated in a K-9 training activity at Lake Lanier, playing the role of a decoy suspect that the participating K-9 officers had to confront.
He said getting to be around the other K-9s has helped him deal with Blue’s death.
“I’ve been (getting) support from the fellow K-9 guys so, while I don’t personally have a dog right now, I love this job and I love being around dogs so I still get to play with all of the dogs, which makes it easier,” Webb said. “It’s a tight-knit community and ... it really just helps to be around dogs.”