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As his fellow Long Beach Police Department officers saluted a fallen hero earlier this week, tears streamed down the face of K-9 handler Mike Parcells from the loss of his beloved partner.
A 4-year-old Belgian Malinois named Credo was killed Tuesday morning during a standoff with an armed man in Long Beach, California, that was captured on live television.
"These service dogs, these K-9s are not just dogs,'' Deputy Chief Richard Conant said during the ceremony. "These are police officers. This dog was injured in a performance of his duty and that's going to weigh heavily on the Long Beach Police family."
A distraught Parcells, who had been Credo's handler during the dog's two years on the force, cradled the dog in his arms in the final moments of his life.
Credo was sent to attack the man when he moved aggressively toward police. When the suspect brandished a knife, an officer fired multiple times to protect his fellow officers, with the shots hitting Credo and the suspect, according to NBC Los Angeles. The man was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Aerial images captured a distraught Parcells whipping his helmet to the ground after laying Credo's body on the sidewalk. Parcells then threw Credo over his shoulder and ran to put him in the back of a police vehicle.
The dog died after being rushed to a veterinary clinic. Officers arrived Tuesday afternoon outside the animal hospital to salute Credo as he was carried out in a flag-draped coffin, with many local residents also paying their respects.
This is the second time Parcells, a 23-year veteran of the department, has had to deal with the grief of losing a K-9 partner. Another Belgian Malinois named Ranger was killed during a shootout in 2005.
"He hasn't just lost a pet at home. He's lost his partner who saves him and protects him, you know, out in the field every day,'' Long Beach resident Josie Gavieres said on TODAY Thursday. "It's just gotta be really tough on him."
The Long Beach Police Department and Parcells declined TODAY's request for comment but said in a statement that they were grateful for the outpouring of support. A local Long Beach dog-walking company has started a GoFundMe page to raise money for a new K-9 member for the force and for K-9 vests to protect the dogs.
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