Criminal repeatedly stabs police K9, gets taken out by deputy when he then charged at the officer with the knife

GOBLES, MI – A 39-year-old male suspect, who authorities say stabbed a police K9, was fatally shot by a Van Buren County Sheriff’s deputy in late July. Officials say that the deputy fatally shot the suspect after he allegedly confronted the deputy with a knife.

On July 26th at approximately 7:30 p.m., sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to a home located on North State Street near Bush Street after a report came in regarding a domestic assault. The person of interest in that initial call was later identified as 39-year-old Jacob Bender.

Upon first arriving at the home, authorities could not locate Bender in the area and reportedly obtained a warrant, returning to the home again at approximately 9:30 p.m. that evening.

Sheriff Daniel Abbott stated that deputies spoke with the wife of the suspect, which the woman reportedly told deputies that Bender was hiding in a basement crawl space inside of the home:

“Once they found the hidden crawl space — there was also a way to access it from the back of the residence — our K-9 handler was able to see him hiding in there. He could see his hand. Kept giving him verbal commands: ‘Come out, come out, come out, or I’m gonna send in the K-9.’ The K-9 was sent in.”

Officials say that when the K9 was sent into the crawl space, Bender had stabbed the dog three times. Luckily, the K9’s handler was able to get the dog out of the crawl space.

Sheriff Abbott stated that a deputy then ventured inside of the crawl space, where the unnamed deputy was then confronted by the suspect:

“Once they went downstairs to try and take him into custody, the subject was tased to no avail. The subject still did have the knife in his possession, did not go by verbal commands and unfortunately, the deputies ended up using lethal force once they were confronted with a subject with a knife coming at them.”

The K9 that was stabbed during the incident, later identified as K9 Kuno, was treated by a veterinarian in Kalamazoo and released on July 27th.

Michigan State Police are taking the lead on the investigation into the shooting, with the deputy involved being placed on administrative leave, following standard protocol, until the investigation is completed.

According to sheriff Abbott, Bender had two warrants for his arrest that were active at the time of the shooting incident.

Criminal records for the deceased suspect show that his arrest history dates back to 2005, with previous cases including domestic violence, assault, impaired driving, and drug convictions.

Neighbors and locals were shocked to hear of the incident involving Bender. One local resident, Jill Szotek, said that her grandson used to take guitar lessons from the deceased suspect:

“I have been inside that house numerous times. It was always nice and clean; didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. [Bender was] very nice to my grandson.”

One of Bender’s neighbors, Baylee Goff, was surprised to hear that Bender stabbed a police K9, saying that the suspect had his own German shepherd and was a breeder. Nonetheless, Goff shared her condolences for all involved in what she called a “traumatic” incident:

“Prayers for the police officer and everybody that was involved in the incident because that’s traumatic for them as well. It’s not the force they want to use.”

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Elsewhere in Michigan, a police K9 was killed following injuries sustained from a crash caused by a suspected DUI driver back in July. 

Here’s that previous report. 

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FLINT, MI – A suspected drunk driver crashed into a parked Michigan State Police vehicle earlier in July, killing the MSP K9 inside of the vehicle while also injuring a state trooper.

The driver and two other occupants in the vehicle were also severely injured in the crash, with authorities saying that one of the driver’s occupants is not expected to make it.

At approximately 1:05 a.m. on July 25th, an MSP K9 unit was parked along the M-10 highway, directing traffic to the offramp due to the flooding that was on the highway.

According to the MSP, a vehicle that was “traveling at freeway speed” collided with the MSP unit on the highway.

The unidentified trooper “sustained non-life threatening injuries to his legs”, according to officials, but K9 Rex suffered injuries to the spine and legs from the impact. K9 Rex was transported to Blue Pearl animal hospital where he subsequently succumbed to his sustained injuries.

A series of tweets from the MSP Metro Detroit’s official Twitter account noted that the driver of the vehicle that caused the crash was believed to have been intoxicated during the incident:

“The driver of the suspect vehicle is believed to be under the influence of alcohol. He has serious injuries. The female front seat passenger has critical injuries. The female rear seat passenger also has serious injuries.”

“Troopers and the MSP Crash Reconstruction team investigating the crash and have obtained a blood draw which will be tested for alcohol.”

The driver and two female passengers inside of the vehicle were all transported to an area hospital following the crash.

In an update provided by the MSP, the trooper has been released from the hospital while the driver and their occupants are still hospitalized:

“Update: The trooper has been released from the hospital. He does not appear to have any major injury. The suspect is currently in surgery for his leg and hip. One passenger is still in the ER and listed as stable. The second passenger is in the ICU and is not expected to survive.”

Officials have forwarded the blood draw from the driver over to the lab and are awaiting the results from the test and will hand the results over to the prosecutor to determine next steps regarding the driver.

No identifying details regarding the trooper or the driver and passengers have been shared by officials as of this writing.

This is an ongoing investigation.

Please follow Law Enforcement Today as we continue to gather further insight into this developing case.

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Earlier in July, we at Law Enforcement Today shared the saddening news of another K9 that died in the line of duty in Missouri. 

Here’s that previous report. 

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ST. JOSEPH, MO- K9 Officer Max, of the St. Joseph Police Department (SJPD), was fatally shot in the line of duty on June 30th, when he was brought in to help officers responding to a call of domestic violence in south St. Joseph. 

Authorities stated that officers with the Special Response Team (SRT) were called out to 5108 Barbara Street around 10:30 p.m. on the night of June 30th to execute a search warrant on domestic abuse.

When responding officers attempted to breach the back door, the suspect, who was armed, ran out another door of the house and fatally shot Max during the escape. 

Max was a 2-year member of the force and served on the SRT assisting in calls to help apprehend dangerous felons. He was partnered with Officer Lucas Winder. In press release, the department said:

“Max performed his duties heroically and protected the lives of others on scene.”

According to reports, the suspect, 24-year-old Valdez McDonald, had barricaded himself inside. Police said McDonald was wanted on a third-degree assault charge for allegedly beating his mother, slamming a two-by-four into the back of her head and smashing her against the wall.

K9 Max was rushed to an emergency veterinarian in Kansas City, but died of his injuries. McDonald has since be arrested and charged with armed criminal action in addition to the domestic charges he was already facing.

Buchanan County Prosecutor Ron Holiday stated that the maximum sentence for the combined charges could be 19 years in prison. 

In a Facebook post on July 1st, SJPD wrote:

“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.”

The St. Joseph Post reported that Officer Winder said that working alongside K9 Max was “like taking your best friend and kid to work every day.” He added:

“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 said that every day he worked with K9 Max was a blessing and that he is grateful for the time they had together. SJPD Police Chief Chris Connally said whether it be two legs or four, Max was one of their own and losing him was a very painful experience. He added:

“When we lost Max, we lost an officer and it hurts…he was one of our own.”

Connally said Max lived out his sworn duty as a St. Joseph police officer right until the very end. He added:

“We as police officers are sworn to protect and serve and Max did exactly that. As trained and true to his mission, he did his job and while doing it likely saved our officers and maybe even the perpetrator.”

Winder said the time that has followed Max’s death has been a “day-to-day battle,” but he thanks the community for the outpouring of support he has received. K9 Max’s memorial service was held on July 9th. He added:

“I couldn’t even tell you the amount of calls and texts I’ve received. Not just from this jurisdiction, but nationwide. It’s been beautiful to see everyone come together.”

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Author: Gregory Hoyt


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