Duluth K-9 handler 'resting,' dog mourned after shootout death
DULUTH - A handler and his canine partner were identified on Monday, Jan. 14, as the officers involved in Sunday's shootout on West Skyline Parkway that left the suspect and the K-9 dead.
Officer Aaron Haller, a four-year veteran of the Duluth Police Department, was injured and his K-9 partner, Haas, was killed during the incident, said a Duluth police news release.
Haas was previously identified based on what has become an outpouring of support for the fallen dog on social media.
Duluth police responded to a report of a "felony-level" domestic assault at a home on the 1000 block of West Skyline Parkway just before 6:30 p.m. Sunday, police said late Sunday.
Officers negotiated with a man in the home for about an hour before he began firing at them, striking Haller and killing the police dog.
At least one officer returned fire, the Duluth police said. Ultimately, police gained access to the room where the man was located and found him dead. Police have not disclosed the identity of the suspect or the nature of the suspect's death.
Haller was treated and released from a Duluth hospital following the shooting.
"As a community, let's put our arms around and show our support for Officer Aaron Haller, his dedicated K9 partner Haas, and our DPD family to find peace in the days ahead," Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken wrote on his official Facebook page. "Officer Haller is home resting with family and Haas will forever Rest In Peace as a hero who gave the ultimate sacrifice keeping his police officer partners safe."
Haller had been partnered together with Haas for the past two years. Haas was 3 years old and a decorated performer in a national police dog competition last summer.
The outpouring of support for Haas began to appear on social media as the news spread.
Duluth Mayor Emily Larson wrote on Facebook Monday that the city would light Enger Tower blue to honor the police and the fallen canine.
"For the next few days we will be lighting Enger Tower blue to thank our officers who responded to a dangerous call last night, to show our support for Officer Haller who is safe and home, to thank the DPD community for supporting one another, for this community who is doing the same," Larson wrote. "K9 Partners work incredibly hard to protect and serve this community. Haas was a trusted companion to Officer Haller.
Thank you to everyone who is reaching out. It has been a very difficult night and morning for people who work with and in our Police Department and their families."
Said the Northland Law Enforcement K-9 Association, made up of multiple Northland departments which use canine officers: "Last night came the horrible reminder of the ever-present dangers faced by our law enforcement officers, including K-9s. Duluth Police K-9 Haas was shot and killed by a suspect wanted in a felony domestic assault case. ... With broken hearts, we extend our sympathy and best wishes to Officer Haller and his family, to the Duluth Police Department and to all who knew and loved this very good boy."
Haas had taken first place last summer in the criminal apprehension competition at the U.S. Police Canine Association regional trials.
A bio of Haas appears on the Northland Law Enforcement K-9 Association website: "(The) talented Belgian Malinois was born in the Netherlands in January 2016, and has been working with the Duluth Police Department — and Officer Aaron Haller — in the spring of 2017. K-9 Haas is a dual purpose K-9 trained to detect drugs and evidence, and to track and find people.
"K-9 Haas has twice proven he's top dog in training. During one of his initial certification classes on narcotics detection, he finished with the top score in the class: 199.67 out of 200. He followed that up at the USPCA regional trials placing first in criminal apprehension out of more than 100 teams."
Said the Cloquet Police Department on its Twitter account: "No words can describe our emotions of this event. May you guys find peace and comfort. We are with you."
A fellow Duluth police K-9 handler, Rob Hurst and his K-9 Hondo, also weighed in on Twitter with a verse explaining the relationship between a handler and his police dog:
"My eyes are your eyes, to watch and protect you and yours.
My ears are your ears, to hear and detect evil minds in the dark.
My nose is your nose, to scent the invader of your domain.
And so you may live, my life is also yours."