Riverside County sheriff’s K-9 handlers and their police dogs stood up to represent and remember their fallen hero, Sultan.
They honored the K-9 at the Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center in Riverside Friday.
The sheriff’s department said Sultan and his handler, Officer Mark Wallace, were at a home in Hemet Wednesday when Sultan was sent in to force a wanted suspect to come outside during a standoff. Shortly after, 36-year-old Todd Allan Hodge from Hemet shot the K-9, who later died.
“It impacted me as if I had lost a peer,” said Chief Deputy Geoff Raya. “There is very little differentiation … four legs or two legs, they’re all members of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.”
Police later shot and killed Hodge when he crawled out from the home and pointed a handgun at deputies.
Hodge was wanted on a felony weapons charge after he failed to show up to court Monday. He was already guilty of several burglaries and grand theft auto, according to Riverside County Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Cabral.
Students at De Anza Elementary School in San Jacinto wrote letters and drew pictures for Officer Wallace and his former partner. Wallace and Sultan visited second-graders at the school Wednesday just hours before the deadly standoff.
“It was shocking because we just saw him and he was so alive and the officer was there. And to know they went right into the line of duty after doing such a great thing for these students was really challenging,” said De Anza Principal Jenifer Golden.
Deputy Kevin Brooks, with his K-9 Ivan, said Sultan’s sacrifice was proof of the loyalty the four-legged officers and their handlers share.
“He gave his life for one of us, for a human officer not to get injured. Sultan did what he was trained to do,” Brooks said.
Officer Wallace will be given another K-9 partner and begin training, which will cost about $20,000.
“He’ll never forget Sultan, but we have to move on. The public needs us, our partners need us. We just have to move on,” said Brooks.
“You will always be in our hearts forever, Sultan,” said De Anza second-grader Jimmy Boessneck.
Plans for a memorial service for Sultan are still being made.
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department started a fund to be used in Sultan’s memory. Any person wishing to donate may send check or cash to Riverside Sheriff’s Association, 6215 River Crest Dr. #A, Riverside, CA 92507. In the “memo” field, please write Sultan for fund identification purposes. (Tax ID #95-620-3844)