Police K-9 Killed in Line of Duty
German shepherd "Schultz" was killed when hit by car on Route 42.
The township is mourning the death of a police K-9 hit by a car on Route 42 on Nov. 30 while attempting to apprehend a robbery suspect.
A memorial service is being planned for K-9 "Schultz." It will be held Thursday at 2 p.m. at Gloucester Township Community Park, located at Peter Cheeseman and Hickstown roads.
Cpl. Mark Pickard, the dog's handler since 2008, was not present for a press conference held at the township court on Dec. 1 to announce two arrests in the case.
Pickard, who has been granted a leave of absence from the police department, watched as "Schultz" closed in on and apprehended a robbery suspect before being struck by the car, Police Chief W. Harry Earle said.
Earle noted "Schultz," a 3-year-old year German shepherd, was more than a police dog—he was a "family pet and a family friend" to the Pickards.
Earle indicated police on Wednesday received many "phone calls and e-mails—tearful phone calls—from members of our community who are so concerned and so upset about the loss of 'Schultz,'" named after Philadelphia Flyers great Dave "The Hammer" Schultz.
Skyler J. Robinson, 20, of Pitman Downer Road in the Sewell section of Washington Township, is facing charges for allegedly robbing the Lucky Dragon Chinese restaurant in Blackwood and in the death of K-9 "Schultz."
"Schultz" had tracked Robinson and alleged co-conspirator Evan J. Scotese, 19, of Jonathan Drive, Sewell, about a half-mile from the restaurant to a set of bushes located just off Route 42.
While the dog was attempting to apprehend Robinson, the suspect "managed to throw Schultz" into the southbound lanes of Route 42, where a car struck the K-9, police said. "Schultz" died at the scene.
Police were dispatched to the Lucky Dragon Chinese restaurant, located on the 400 block of East Church Street, at 7:09 p.m. on Nov. 30 on a report of a robbery, according to authorities.
Two employees and a customer were inside the restaurant when Robinson and Scotese allegedly stormed the counter, with one of them striking the clerk in his face. The robbers indicated they were armed with weapons, Earle said.
The two men then fled the restaurant with approximately $300, the majority of which has been recovered, Earle said.
Local police noted their appreciation for the response from law-enforcement officers from throughout the area, particularly the New Jersey State Police and Philadelphia Police aviation units, in searching for the robbery suspects. An estimated 90 to 100 police officers participated in the search.
"They responded because they knew the K-9 had suffered—and suffered death," Earle said.
It was a 911 call reporting a suspicious male in the Knoll Run condominium complex at around 10:40 p.m. that led to Robinson's arrest.
Robinson, a standout football player at Washington Township High School in 2007, has been charged with robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, resisting arrest by flight, inflicting harm on a law-enforcement animal and cruelty to animals. He is being held in Camden County Jail on $150,000 cash bail.
The charge of inflicting harm on a law-enforcement animal is a third-degree offense punishable by up to five years in prison.
Camden County Prosecutor Warren Faulk noted "Schultz" is the first police K-9 killed in the line of duty in his two-and-a-half years on the job.
"K-9s serve and protect just like police officers," Faulk said. "I was pleased to learn there is a specific statute in New Jersey that makes it a third-degree crime to intentionally kill either a police dog (or) a police horse ..."
Scotese has been charged with robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery and resisting arrest. He was apprehended at his residence by Washington Township police at about 6 a.m. Dec. 1.
Scotese is also being held in the Camden County jail on $150,000 bail.
Dave Schultz is planning to attend Thursday's memorial service, Earle said.
"It's certainly a sad thing. 'Schultz' was doing a great job with the police department for three years, I believe, and was trained properly and was doing his job," Schultz said when contacted by phone Wednesday night. "That's pretty weird when a K-9's life ends doing his job.
"As an animal lover, a dog lover, it's sad, especially for the department and the police officers. They had become pretty close."
"Schultz" was named after the former Flyers enforcer, a member of the two-time Stanley Cup champion "Broad Street Bullies" of the 1970s, as the winning entry in a 2008 essay contest for the township's fifth-grade students.
In October, "Schultz" and Pickard finished 10th overall in the U.S. Police Canine Association's National Field Trials, held in Hammond, LA.
Robinson sustained puncture wounds from "Schultz" and a leg injury as a result of being struck by the same car that killed the police K-9. He was treated at Kennedy University Hospital-Stratford.