A wanted man who barricaded himself inside a home in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, on Tuesday shot and killed a police K-9 before apparently fatally shooting himself, according to Massachusetts State Police.
State police said the incident began in the morning. The suspect, identified as Matthew Mack, 38, was wanted on charges tied to a shooting earlier this month and investigators had established surveillance on him at a home on Oliver Street. When contacted by members of the Massachusetts Violent Fugitive Apprehension team, Mack reportedly barricaded himself inside the home.
Police believed Mack was armed and had a "propensity for violence." A SWAT team and crisis negotiators were called in to try to convince him to leave the building, but he continued to refuse, according to state police.
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There are three apartments in the building, adding to the danger of the circumstances, police said. At one point officers heard a female voice inside the home with Mack. After speaking with negotiators, she was able to leave.
Investigators do not believe Mack lived at the home.
Negotiators had several conversations with Mack and his family members trying to convince him to turn himself in peacefully. But around 2:50 p.m. a team, including K-9 Frankie and his handler, were called in to try to apprehend Mack when he was spotted at a back door. At that time, according to police, Mack fired multiple times at the team, hitting the dog, then went back inside.
"If you would have put him in the hospital to get the help he needed, we wouldn't be in this situation," said Mack's cousin. "He's going to be missed."
K9 Frankie was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. None of the human officers were hurt.
"My heart goes out to Frankie, because he was the real brave one here today," said Sherry Brown, who witnessed the tense situation from her back porch.
Negotiators tried again to contact Mack but were unsuccessful. Mack was found dead inside the home of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound around 5:20 p.m., when state police sent in a drone to assess the situation.
“I think the only thing I would say about the conclusion of this event, again, is that it’s not what we desire. Obviously the preservation of life is first and foremost in our mission," State Police Colonel Christopher Mason said. He went on to say that despite that, he was pleased at the way his department was able to work with Fitchburg police and other responders and the way resources were brought in.
None of the officers who responded to the scene fired their weapons, Mason said. Other tactics, including deploying gas, were used at different times to try to get Mack out of the building.
Frankie was almost 11 years old and had been a member of the Massachusetts State Police for nine years.
"Frankie had every trait we seek in a good law enforcement officer, canine or human: intelligence, immense courage, and dedication to protecting the public. He was as loyal a partner as any Trooper ever had," Mason said.
Frankie is the first Massachusetts State Police dog to be killed in the line of duty.
The investigation into the situation is ongoing.
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