Mass. State Police K-9 shot and killed at standoff

Frankie, a 10-year-old Belgian Malinois, is the first MSP canine to be killed in the line of duty


By Rick Sobey
Boston Herald

BOSTON — A Mass State Police K-9 was shot and killed at a standoff in Fitchburg Tuesday afternoon, a “heartbreaking” loss as Frankie became the first MSP canine to be killed in the line of duty.

Frankie, a 10-year-old Belgian Malinois who was a member of Mass State Police for nine years, was fatally shot while trying to apprehend a wanted fugitive who had barricaded himself inside a residence. Frankie’s handler, Trooper David Stucenski, was not physically injured.

Massachusetts State Police K-9 Frankie.
Massachusetts State Police K-9 Frankie. (Photo/Massachusetts State Police via TNS)

“His sacrifice will never be forgotten,” Col. Christopher Mason said at a press conference while announcing Frankie’s death. “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.

“He was a beloved member of the Massachusetts State Police family and the Stucenski family,” Mason added. “He was, as much as any human of the member of the Department, one of us and part of us.”

The fugitive suspect — Matthew Mack, 38 — later died after apparently shooting himself inside the three-story, multi-family house at 40 Oliver St.

Mack was wanted on warrants charging him with firearms offenses and accessory after the fact stemming from a shooting incident in Fitchburg last week.

When troopers made verbal contact with Mack, he refused to exit the house. Negotiators had multiple conversations with Mack, as well as with members of his family, in an attempt to persuade him to surrender peacefully.

Then at about 2:48 p.m., Mack was seen at a rear exit of the house, and police tried to apprehend him. Frankie and his handler approached the rear, and Mack fired multiple shots, striking the K-9.

Troopers picked up Frankie and evacuated him from the scene to an ambulance. He was transported to Wachusett Animal Hospital in Westminster, where he was pronounced dead. The ambulance transport was the first instance of such emergency care made possible by Nero’s Law.

Frankie was a highly decorated member of the Massachusetts State Police. In 2017, he and Stucenski were awarded the Medal of Valor at the state’s annual George L. Hanna Awards for Bravery, the state’s top law enforcement award ceremony.

They were honored for apprehending a hit-and-run suspect who, during a foot chase, turned and fired a shot at Stucenski and Frankie as they pursued him on a Springfield street. The shot missed the trooper and Frankie, and Frankie apprehended him. Stucenski and Frankie won the State Police Medal of Merit for that same incident.

In 2014, Stucenski and Frankie won three awards from the U.S. Police Canine Association for evidence recovery, agility and other law enforcement skills.

Just last month, MSP honored Stucenski and Frankie and other members of the Special Tactical Operations Team for apprehending an armed child pornography suspect who had opened fire on them when they went to arrest him at a West Springfield motel in 2019.

“Today we mourn the killing of our coworker, friend, and fellow member of the Massachusetts State Police,” State Police Association of Massachusetts wrote. “We ask for privacy and respect for K-9 Frankie, his handler, family, and those who knew him during this heartbreaking time. We would like to express our deepest gratitude to all the first responders and medical staff who tried their hardest to save K-9 Frankie’s life.”

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McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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