(WJBK) - The foundation set up to honor murdered Wayne State Police Sgt. Collin Rose has raised more than $15,000 in honor of a police K9 so that other police dogs have a chance against an armed suspect.
Tributes to St. Clair Shores K9 Axe have poured in in the week since he was killed. Axe was sent to track down an armed suspect who police said was waiving a gun around outside a baby shower when the dog was shot and killed Sunday night. The suspect, 29-year-old Theoddeus Gray, was shot and killed by police.
In his memory, the Officer Collin Rose Memorial Foundation is raising money to protect other police dogs. But many, including founder of Vested Interest in K9's Sandy Marcal, are wondering if Axe had a bulletproof vest and if he was wearing it.
"One of the most common questions is they want to know if the dog has a vest and if he or she is wearing the vest. Those are things we often hear, when there is a tragedy," Marcal said.
Vested Interest donates bulletproof vests for police dogs but she says some department have policies that prohibit them from accepting charitable gifts and it's not clear if Axe had one or if it would have saved him.
"The officer is going to determine when it's time to put it on the dog, what is the need? That is ultimately their choice, we just want them to be willing to have the option to have the equipment if the need arises," Marcal said.
Vested Interest is one of the charities that had made donations in Axe's memory. As has the Collin Rose Memorial Foundation, which is working to get vests and first aid bags for other police dogs. Rose, a K9 handler for the Wayne State Police Department, was murdered in November 2016.
Axe's death hits close to home for the foundation, said foundation president Chris Powell.
"We know what we went through and we know what they're going through," he said. "There's really no way to process grief like this."
"I was shocked. It's like my dog dying," Rose's brother-in-law Mark Poulter said. "It's like another family member."
With the $15,000 raised in his memory, they're able to buy at least ten vests for dogs and provide about 25 first aid bags.
Rose's family and friends have designed stickers to honor Axe as well and gave them to St. Clair Shores Police. You can find them on the foundation's website HERE.
The community St. Clair Shores is planning to light up the night in blue for Axe on Sunday at 7 p.m. They're asking people to get blue bulbs and put them in their porch lights for the night.