Boy who painted tribute to fallen K-9 surprised at school by officers
“I wanted to tell (Joel) ‘Thank you’ and that I appreciated the painting,” K-9 Rico’s handler Special Agent Richard Hunton said
By Joanna Putman
CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. — A K-9 handler and an elementary school student met each other for the first time after the boy painted a tribute to a fallen K-9 officer, WCIV reported.
South Carolina Law Enforcement Division Special Agent Richard Hunton was K-9 Rico’s handler when Rico was killed while on duty in September. The K-9 was credited with saving many lives during the operation, according to the report.
Hunton visited Joel Ekpunobi, a fifth-grade student, at school on Nov. 27 to express his gratitude for a painted tribute to Rico.
“I wanted to tell (Joel) ‘Thank you’ and that I appreciated the painting,” Hunton said.
Joel had worked for weeks to make the painting and seemed to have a special connection to the project, according to the report.
“He worked on the painting for two and a half weeks from sketching, getting it onto the canvas and then painting it,” art teacher Megan Sweeney said. “It really struck a chord with him.”
Officers also brought K-9 officers into the classroom to meet Joel and his classmates, according to the report.