NJ K-9 killed in struggle with robbery suspect

After a robbery, a suspect swung "Schultz" the decorated K-9 into the southbound lanes while his handler watched

By Jason Nark
The Philadelphia Daily News

GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP, N.J. — A South Jersey man who starred on the gridiron years ago threw away his freedom Tuesday night when he hurled a prized police K-9 into oncoming traffic, police said.

Police in Gloucester Township, Camden County, said that their decorated K-9, Schultz, a 3 1/2-year-old German shepherd named after beloved Philadelphia Flyers enforcer Dave "The Hammer" Schultz, had clamped down on Skyler Robinson's arm after a robbery Tuesday night and held tight as they struggled toward busy Route 42.

Robinson, 20, a former standout running back in high school, swung Schultz into the southbound lanes while his handler watched, and the dog and Robinson were struck by a vehicle, police said. Schultz died almost immediately.

"We're very thankful for his service," Gloucester Township Police Chief Harry Earle said solemnly yesterday.

Robinson was injured by Schultz and the car but continued to flee, police said. He was apprehended a few hours later after a manhunt and was charged with inflicting harm on a law-enforcement animal, which could bring him five years in prison. He also faces charges of animal cruelty, robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery and resisting arrest.

He is being held in lieu of $150,000 bail but was being treated at Kennedy Memorial Hospital, in Stratford, yesterday.

An alleged accomplice in the robbery, Evan Scotese, 19, was arrested by Washington Township police yesterday morning. He was charged with robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery and resisting arrest, and is being held in lieu of $150,000 bail at the Camden County Jail.

Police said that both men entered the Lucky Dragon restaurant on East Church Street about 7:09 p.m. Tuesday, demanding money from two employees while motioning as if they were armed. One of the suspects struck an employee, and both men fled out the back with about $300, police said.

Gloucester Township Police Cpl. Mark Pickard responded to the robbery with Schultz and tracked the suspects to a nearby development, where they were hiding in bushes, cops said. Robinson ran and fought with Schultz as he made his way up an embankment toward the highway, police said.

According to Earle, Pickard witnessed Schultz's death and was mourning the loss of his pet and partner. The dog lived in the township with Pickard, his wife and his three children.

Pickard's family declined to comment when reached yesterday. Troy Kenuk, a retired Gloucester Township K-9 officer and friend of Pickard's, said that the bond between a K-9 and his handler is unique in law enforcement.

"When you have an animal that assumes so much risk for you, you feel so obligated to it," said Kenuk, who recently had to put down his K-9, Ciro, after 13 years. "It was barbaric what happened to Schultz."

Earle said that Schultz joined the department in 2008 and was named by a local student who won an essay contest. The student chose "Schultz" because he wanted the dog "to be tough" like the former Broad Street Bully.

Dave Schultz was notified of the K-9's death by police yesterday and said that he plans to attend a memorial service next week in Gloucester Township.

"The whole thing is so upsetting," he said yesterday. "I'm honored they named him after me. He did great work. He went down a hero."

Robinson was a heralded running back at Washington Township High in 2007, earning Courier-Post All Group 4 status after rushing for 948 yards and 14 touchdowns for the Minutemen his junior year.

Robinson transferred to Woodrow Wilson High School, in Camden, for his senior year, but it's unclear if he ever played there. Coaches at both schools did not return phone calls for comment, and Robinson's mother couldn't be reached.

In 2008, however, Robinson's mother told the Courier-Post that her son had transferred because of "unforeseen personal reasons" and was trying to straighten out his academics.

A year later, he was charged with aggravated assault in Washington Township, although the offense was later dismissed. Court records show that he had also been convicted of theft.

Earle said that police were investigating whether Robinson and Scotese were involved in other area robberies.

Schultz, police said, was a superstar, placing in national and local K-9 contests. This year, he was honored by the nonprofit Our K9 Heroes.

"He was everything you wanted in a working dog, besides being drop-dead handsome," said Lillian Kline, the organization's president. "I hope he really tore the guy up."

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