JOHNSTOWN, CAMBRIA COUNTY--- K-9 Officers around the country are sending their condolences to the Pittsburgh Police Department who lost one of their own.
Cambria County Sheriff Deputy Steve Szymusiak has been a K-9 officer for almost ten years. His 2 year old K-9 Hero, isn’t just his partner, he’s apart of the family.
“He’s your best friend,” said Szymusiak. “You devote a lot of time and training with them.”
Szymusiak was at K-9 training in the Pittsburgh area when they heard the news about Rocco.
“It was sad, not just for that department but the handler especially.”
Rocco was an 8 year old German Sheppard who was stabbed Tuesday night in a basement in Lawrenceville. Police said convicted sex offender 21-year old John Rush stabbed Rocco with a knife. Rocco lost a kidney and his spine was damaged. Szymusiak said Rocco died doing what he was trained to do.
"The dog's purpose is to protect the community, protect other officers on the street and to keep everyone safe,” said Szymusiak. “K-9 Rocco paid the ultimate sacrifice by doing what he was trained to do protect his handler and other officer."
Szymusiak told WTAJ News reporter Danielle Krout Friday, he can’t imagine what Rocco’s family is going through.
“We send them our condolences,” said Szymusiak.
Rocco will be buried with full honors; Szymusiak said both he and Hero will go to pay their respects.