A longtime Massachusetts State Police K9 was killed in the line of duty today, and local law enforcement and first responders are offering their condolences.

K9 Frankie was fatally shot during an attempt to apprehend a wanted fugitive who had barricaded himself into a residence, State Police Col. Christopher Mason said. The suspect later took his own life.

Mason said that shortly before 9 a.m., the State Police Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section staked out a three-story, multi-family home at 40 Oliver Street in Fitchburg after finding out that fugitive suspect Matthew Mack, 38, was at the location. Mack was wanted on warrants charging him with firearms offenses and accessory after the fact stemming from a shooting incident July 21 in Fitchburg.

When troopers made verbal contact with Mack, he refused to exit the house. Mason said state police discovered that Mack was both armed and had “a propensity for violence.” Multiple telephone calls were conducted with Mack and family members in an attempt to get him to peacefully surrender, but he refused.

At about 2:48 p.m., Mack was observed at a rear exit of the residence, Mason said, and the decision was made to try to apprehend him. Trooper David Stucenski and K9 Frankie approached where Mack was seen, and Mack fired multiple shots, striking Frankie, before retreating into the residence. At about 5:20 p.m., a drone was used to get a visual inside the residence, where it was discovered that Mack had died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

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Immediately after being shot, Frankie was taken from the scene by ambulance to Wachusett Animal Hospital in Westminster, where he was pronounced deceased. Frankie, a Belgian Malinois, would have turned 11 next month and had served with the state police for about nine years, Mason said.

He became the first Massachusetts State Police K9 killed in the line of duty.

According to Mason, Frankie was “a highly decorated member of the Massachusetts State Police.” He was awarded the Medal of Valor in 2017 for apprehending a hit-and-run suspect who fired a shot at him and Trooper Stucenski. He also won the State Police Medal of Merit for the same incident. In 2014, Stucenski and Frankie won three awards from the United States Police Canine Association for evidence recovery, agility, and other law enforcement skills. Just last month, the two were honored by state police for apprehending an armed child pornography suspect who had opened fire on them at a West Springfield motel.

Massachusetts State Police via Facebook
Massachusetts State Police via Facebook

“Frankie had every trait we seek in a good law enforcement officer, canine or human: intelligence, immense courage, and dedication to protecting the public. He was as loyal a partner as any trooper ever had,” Mason said. “He was a beloved member of the Massachusetts State Police family and the Stucenski family. He was, as much as any human of the member of the Department, one of us and part of us.”

SouthCoast law enforcement and first responders shared the tragic news on their social media accounts.

The Wareham Fire Department offered its condolences on Facebook, calling Frankie’s death in the line of duty “terrible.”

The Dartmouth Police Department wished to send “collective thoughts and prayers” to the state police.

“Though he has crossed over the Rainbow Bridge, we are certain that Frankie is undoubtedly maintaining a dutiful and loving watch from above.,” the DPD posted to Facebook. “R.I.P. hero. We'll take it from here.”

“Rest in peace Massachusetts State Police K9 Frankie,” the New Bedford Police Department posted to Facebook. “You are all in our thoughts and prayers.”

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