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Man Held In Death of Gloucester Township Police Dog

Man Held In Death of Gloucester Township Police Dog

Gloucester Township Cpl. Mark Pickard with his partner, Schultz.

Philadelphia Inquirer via YellowBrix

December 02, 2010

GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP, NJ – A 20-year-old Washington Township man was charged Wednesday in the death of a police dog that was struck by a car on Route 42 Tuesday night.

Skyler Robinson was arrested 31/2 hours into a manhunt involving close to 100 officers from the region who searched neighborhoods late into the night as a police helicopter swept through the sky.

Police say Robinson and an accomplice robbed the Lucky Dragon Chinese restaurant in Gloucester Township of $300 before fleeing into the Blackwood section of town.

The dog, Schultz, and his handler, Cpl. Mark Pickard, 45, tracked the men a half-mile from the restaurant and found them hiding in bushes in a neighborhood near Route 42.

At a news conference Thursday, Gloucester Township Police Chief Harry Earle described the frantic scene along the highway in which the 85-pound dog latched onto the suspect’s arm and was then flung into traffic as Robinson tried to escape.

The dog died near the scene shortly after.

“Twenty-five agencies were involved,” Earle said. “They responded because they knew the canine had suffered.”

The suspect was grazed by the car that hit the dog, but he ran off, Earle said.

Robinson was found that night in a nearby development after a resident reported a suspicious man in the area.

News of the death of the 31/2-year-old German shepherd struck a chord among Gloucester residents Wednesday, Mayor David Mayer said.

The dog was a regular at school events and public functions, and even his name had been decided in an elementary school writing contest. He was named for former Flyers forward Dave “The Hammer” Schultz, a favorite of one fifth grader who thought the player’s fearsome reputation useful to a police dog, Earle said.

“It’s a rough day for the town,” Mayer said. “These dogs are very visible. It’s a tragic event.”

Evan Scotese, 19, of Washington Township, was arrested Wednesday. He and Robinson were charged with robbery and resisting arrest. Robinson was also charged with inflicting harm on a law enforcement animal, a third-degree felony that can carry with it a five-year prison sentence and $15,000 fine.

Both men remained in custody on $150,000 bail each.

Pickard was not available for comment. His wife, Robyn, said he was struggling to deal with the death of his pet and partner, whom he had trained.

“He’s a mess. I wouldn’t expect him not to be,” she said. “Everyone knows my husband as the guy out in his yard playing with his dog.”

The Pickards and their three children took Schultz into their home when the dog was a year old. They had had police dogs in their home before, but Schultz was unusually affectionate, Robyn Pickard said.

“If he saw my husband touching me, he would come over and stop him and say, no, it’s my turn,” she said. “The phone keeps ringing. My kids’ friends, they all loved him.”

Police began mourning Schultz Tuesday night when they lined up outside the veterinary clinic waiting for Pickard to carry him in.

A memorial service has been scheduled for next Thursday. Police have established a memorial fund to pay for the ceremony as well as for a new dog for the department K-9 unit.

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