FITCHBURG, Mass. (NEWS10) – Massachusetts State Police K9 “Frankie” was fatally shot while trying to apprehend a wanted fugitive who had barricaded himself inside a home on Tuesday, officials said. Frankie’s handler, Sergeant David Stucenski, was not physically injured.
Shortly before 9 a.m. Tuesday, members of the Massachusetts State Police Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section established surveillance of a three-story multi-family house at 40 Oliver Street in Fitchburg. Officers had gotten word that fugitive suspect Matthew Mack, 38, was at that location.
Mack was wanted on warrants charging him with firearms offenses and accessory after the fact, stemming from a shooting incident on July 21 in Fitchburg. State Police fugitive unit Troopers joined the investigation to help Fitchburg Police locate Mack.
Fugitive Unit troopers made contact with Mack, who refused to exit the house, police said. Based on information developed by Troopers that Mack was currently armed, as well as a belief that he could be violent, the Massachusetts State Police Special Tactical operations responded to the scene around noon and established tactical positions.
Negotiators from the State Police Negotiation Unit also responded to the scene and were able to speak with Mack on the phone. Negotiators had multiple conversations with Mack, as well as with members of his family whom they contacted, in an attempt to persuade him to surrender peacefully.
At about 2:48 p.m., Mack was seen at a rear exit of the house, and a decision was made to try and apprehend him. Sergeant Stucenski and K9 Frankie, who are assigned to the STOP Team, approached the area where Mack had been seen. During the attempt to apprehend him, Mack allegedly fired multiple shots toward team members and hit Frankie. The suspect then retreated into the house.
STOP team members immediately picked up Frankie and took him away from the scene to an ambulance, at which point he was transported to Wachusett Animal Hospital in Westminster. There, he was pronounced dead.
Meanwhile, negotiators were not able to establish further contact with the suspect. At about 5:20 p.m., while the STOP team was planning further operations to resolve the situation, the State Police Drone Unit deployed an unmanned aerial vehicle on the outside of the building at 40 Oliver Street. The drone showed the suspect, dead inside the house from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot, police said. No police officers fired their weapons during this incident.
Frankie was a highly-decorated member of the Massachusetts State Police, who would have turned 11 years old in August. He was a member of the Department for about nine years, during which he was awarded the coveted Medal of Valor at the state’s annual George L. Hanna Awards for Bravery, among other accolades.
When Frankie was taken by Fitchburg EMS to an animal hospital in their ambulance, it was the first time such emergency care was made possible by Nero’s Law. The legislation was signed by Governor Baker in 2021.
Frankie is the first Massachusetts State Police K9 to be killed in the line of duty. “When one of our K9s pass – until today, never in the line of duty – our K9 handlers have a saying. ‘Free Time,'” the agency said on Facebook. “It means that these brave dogs who work so hard to protect the rest of us have earned their eternal peace. Free time and Godspeed, Frankie.”