Lake Wales police K-9 killed in shooting
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K-9 Max was introduced to the community in July 2016.

LAKE WALES, Fla. — A Lake Wales Police Department K-9 named Max died in a shooting by a “violent suspect” Wednesday morning, the sheriff’s office confirmed, adding that the alleged gunman also is dead.

Described as “fearless,” the Belgian Malinois dog joined the department in July 2016 with Officer Jared Joyner as his handler, according to the agency in an earlier Facebook post announcing his introduction. 

In a statement, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said Max was “murdered” in a shooting. The suspect also died, the sheriff’s office said. It did not immediately detail the circumstances of the shooting but stated a Lake Wales Police Department officer was involved.

More information is expected later this afternoon from Police Chief Chris Velasquez and Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

Video from the Sky 10 helicopter earlier in the day showed authorities in the area of West Seminole Avenue and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Crime scene tape was seen wrapped around telephone poles, and a patrol car appeared parked next to a railroad track.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office confirmed with 10 Tampa Bay it was assisting the Lake Wales Police Department in the investigation but did not say what was happening.

The sheriff’s office held a procession just before noon for the fallen K-9 from the Lake Wales Police Department to the county medical examiner’s office for a necropsy — an animal autopsy.

In earlier Facebook posts, the Lake Wales Police Department said Max and handler Joyner completed 480 hours of Florida Department of Law Enforcement certification training to officially join the team. 

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