The Gloucester Township Police Department family received a double dose of good news out of Camden and Trenton on the K-9 Schultz front this week.
A Camden County grand jury on Tuesday indicted two Gloucester County men in connection with last November's infamous Blackwood Chinese restaurant robbery that led to the death of the beloved K-9, according to the Camden County Prosecutor's Office.
"I'm certainly pleased that the prosecutor's office is working so closely with us on this case and has proceeded to get the indictments," Gloucester Township Police Chief W. Harry Earle said today.
Police also learned today that Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday signed into law a measure named after K-9 Schultz that strengthens the penalties for those found guilty of killing a police animal or dog involved in a search or rescue mission.
Skyler Robinson, 21, and Evan Scotese, 20, both of the Sewell section of Washington Township, were indicted Tuesday in connection with the Nov. 30, 2010, robbery of Blackwood's Lucky Dragon Chinese restaurant.
Each faces three counts of robbery—one for each person inside the restaurant during the robbery—and single counts of conspiracy to commit robbery and aggravated assault.
The men reportedly indicated they were armed with weapons during the robbery. Scotese punched a restaurant employee in the face before he and Robinson fled the business with cash, the prosecutor's office said.
Robinson was additionally indicted on two counts of causing injury to a law-enforcement animal and a single count of resisting arrest in connection with the pursuit that ended when he allegedly tossed K-9 Schultz into oncoming Route 42 traffic.
Police responding to the East Church Street Chinese restaurant the night of Nov. 30 on a report of a robbery ended up pursuing the suspects to Route 42.
K-9 Schultz handler Cpl. Mark Pickard released Schultz after ordering Robinson to stop and warning him he had a K-9 with him, according to a press release issued by Camden County Prosecutor Warren W. Faulk.
K-9 Schultz caught Robinson and the two struggled. It is alleged Robinson punched Schultz in the head, forcing the K-9 to release his grip. When Schultz caught Robinson again, the former high-school football star began swinging Schultz into the path of oncoming traffic in an effort to make the K-9 release his arm.
Robinson and K-9 Schultz reportedly were struck by the same car.
The Sewell man ran from the scene. He was arrested at his home the next morning.
The 3 1/2-year-old German shepherd was struck by at least three more cars, according to authorities, and died at the scene.
More than 1,000 people attended Schultz's memorial service on a bone-chilling December day.
The service started the healing process for police.
That process continued June 1, when two new dogs were added to the K-9 unit, including Pickard's new dog, Maximus, a 2 1/2-year-old German shepherd. It continues to this day.
"We're pleased with the prosecution moving forward," Gloucester Township Police Deputy Chief David Harkins said. "We're looking forward to it being settled or our day in court."
Saul Steinberg, who is representing Robinson, noted Wednesday the prosecution makes a "limited presentation" of the facts to the grand jury.
"The facts that come out at trial or even at discovery are often very different," the Camden-based attorney said.
Check back with Gloucester Township Patch Thursday morning at 6 a.m. for a full story on "Schultz's Law" being signed into law by the governor.