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Burglary Suspect Fatally Stabs Police K9 Officer
San Joaquin County sheriffs

On Sunday, Feb. 19, officers from the Tracy Police Department (TPD) witnessed a burglary in progress in the area of Brichetto Road and South Banta Road. Two subjects were removing items from a locomotive belonging to Union Pacific Railroad. As the initial officer approached, one subject fled on foot, and the other, later identified as Rafael Montoya-Velazquez, 30, from Salinas, hunkered down inside another nearby locomotive.

The officers immediately established a containment perimeter around the locomotive in which they believed Montoya-Velazquez was hiding, with the assistance of officers from the California Highway Patrol. Officers used the public address system from a patrol car in an effort to convince Montoya-Velazquez to surrender peacefully; the announcements were given in both Spanish and English. When Montoya-Velazquez failed to respond, a drone (unmanned aerial vehicle) was deployed, but the operator could not see where Montoya-Velazquez was hiding.

The Tracy Police Department requested the assistance of a K9 team from the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office (SJSO). When the deputy and his K9 (Duke) arrived, he was briefed on the situation. After several K9 announcements were met with no response from inside the locomotive, Duke was sent by his handler to search for Montoya-Velazquez.

The K9 deputy (SJSO) and officers from TPD entered the locomotive behind Duke. They located Montoya-Velazquez in a compartment in the front area of the locomotive. Once the door was opened, Duke was deployed to contact Montoya-Velazquez. Although initial indications were that Duke had engaged Montoya-Velazquez, Duke soon began to yelp as if he was injured.

The SJSO deputy was able to reopen the door and deploy his TASER and take Montoya-Velazquez into custody. They immediately learned Duke had been stabbed multiple times. While Tracy PD officers managed Montoya-Velazquez, the SJSO deputy transported Duke to a nearby veterinary emergency department.

After valiant efforts by the emergency staff, Duke succumbed to his injuries.

Montoya-Velazquez was found to be in possession of a large folding knife that was used in the assault against Duke. Montoya-Velazquez was booked on $290,000 bail on the following charges: Felony Willfully harm a police dog with serious injury; Felony Burglary; Felony Vandalism ($400 or more); Misdemeanor Obstruct/Resist Public Officer; Misdemeanor Possession of burglary tools; Misdemeanor Trespass on railroad property.

“I have no doubt that Duke’s heroic actions in confronting a dangerous criminal saved lives (Sunday), be it the lives of the responding officers or that of the suspect himself,” said Chief Millington of the Tracy Police Department. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Duke’s handler and his family, and their extended family at the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office, we are thankful for their service.”

Tracy Police Department officials also expressed their gratitude to its partners from the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department and the California Highway Patrol for their assistance in this incident.