Shot and killed 10 days ago by a fleeing, violent suspect, Chucky soon came to represent every fallen officer, human or canine, for making the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.
On Monday, hundreds of police officers and civilians, as well as a couple dozen other K9s, came to pay their final respects in a two-hour parting ceremony rich in poignancy, pageantry and symbolism.
The funeral procession left the Alamo shortly after 9 a.m. and headed north, halting traffic on U.S. 281 in both directions. On the overpasses, curious spectators watched and fire engines flashed their lights.
At Community Bible Church off Loop 1604, an arch had been formed by an enormous American flag. It dangled 60 feet high between two ladder trucks.
“Everyone and their mom is here,” said Brian Massey, a church security guard, as waves of cars rolled in.
“The canine pretty much saved the officer’s life. That’s the whole point. He’s alive, and his partner saved his life,” he added.
Waiting beneath the arch to receive the dark urn containing Chucky’s ashes was a small, horse-drawn caisson from Mission Park Funeral Chapels, which donated its services.
Black with gold curtains and a cross on top, the wagon also is used in San Antonio police funerals. Hitched to the front was an enormous white Percheron named Ginger.
Also waiting were the Patriot Guard Riders, holding American flags, and officers from area police and military agencies. There was a drum-and-bagpipes escort, too.
“His name will be placed on the Wall of Fallen Officers in Austin and on the National Police Memorial in Washington, D.C.,” said Jason Briseño of the San Antonio Police Pipes and Drums unit.
As Ginger slowly pulled the wagon toward the church entrance, the bagpipes played “Bells of Dunblane,” a mournful tune written to commemorate 16 children killed in a 1996 Irish school shooting.
Some folks had traveled far to attend the funeral of a dog they had never known. Peggy Goodson, 92, using a walker, had come with her daughter from near Houston.
“I’m a dog lover, and when I had to put a dog down it was like putting a child down,” she remarked.
Choreographed like a state funeral, the elaborate ceremony of white gloves, crisp dress uniforms and sharp salutes moved along without urgency.
Eventually, eight pallbearers wearing dark green uniforms emblazoned with “Bexar County K9” on the back took the dark urn riding on a red cushion into the church.
Also wearing the dark green was Kevin Rasmussen, Chucky’s handler and partner, attending with his wife, Rachelle, and son, Joey.
Welcoming about 300 people scattered in the worship hall, the Rev. Ed Newton, senior pastor of the church, singled out Joey, 10, for his bravery.
“You didn’t just lose a pet, you lost a friend, a best friend,” he said, also offering comfort to the parents.
After a video presentation showing Chucky in training and some trophy shots of him with cellophane-wrapped contraband, the Rasmussens spoke.
Joey got a few laughs when he talked about cleaning up after Chucky. He recalled how proud he was when his dad brought Chucky to his school. He said he forgave the guy who killed him.
Kevin Rasmussen recalled Chucky’s “100-mile-an-hour” intensity and service to various police and federal agencies.
“He’s done a lot for the community, saved a lot of lives. Please remember Chucky,” he said while fighting his emotions.
His wife summed up her experience by saying, “The Lord opened up a wide door of unexpected events with that dog.”
Finally, Sheriff Javier Salazar spoke, calling Chucky “the epitome of what we expect law enforcement to be: loyal, fearless and enthusiastic.”
He recounted the Jan. 25 incident in which Matthew Mireles shot to death the 5-year-old Belgian Malinois.
Karnes City police had tried to pull over Mireles that night to arrest him on several warrants. He led officers on a high-speed chase through several counties as he fired shots at them. State troopers and Bexar County deputies joined the pursuit.
Mireles abandoned his vehicle near Loop 1604 and Texas 151 and shot wildly at officers. Chucky, who had to be deployed quickly without his protective vest, was in hot pursuit, with Rasmussen and other officers close behind. Chucky got there first.
“Chucky attempted a jump and takedown but landed in a vulnerable position. The suspect fired at Chucky from near-point-blank range,” Salazar began.
“Although Chucky was mortally wounded, he did not give up the fight. He bit and held on to the suspect, who continued to fire. Chucky was shot a second time,” he said.
Deputies then shot Mireles, who survived and is charged with multiple crimes, including attempted capital murder of a police officer.
For Chucky’s heroism, Salazar awarded the K9 deputy three department medals, including the highest of all, the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office Medal of Honor.
“He will go down in history as the first canine to lose his life while on duty due to a hostile action,” the sheriff said.
The closing ceremony included taps, a rifle salute, a riderless horse and a final bark from a dog named Tango. Erin Ortega, 34, offered his thoughts.
“These officers serve unconditionally, and they run the same risks. This dog did what any other uniformed officer would have done. Doesn’t matter if it’s two legs or four,” he said.
Visit source, click here.