Memorials to Fallen K-9s
The F.A.S.T. Co. donates sets of memorial cards to all partners 
 I need your help to inform me of such losses.

Dept. addresses available for those who want to send condolences to officers. See below
In Loving Memory of 
K-9 ZEUS Badge # 762
May 20, 2001

Handler:Officer Robert Thomas
Boynton Beach Police Department  

Officer Thomas & Zeus Officers  bid farewell to 'family' dog
By Clay Lambert, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer Wednesday, May 30, 2001

Policemen and women from 40 agencies said goodbye Tuesday to the officer who wore Boynton Beach badge No. 762. They played taps on the trumpet and Amazing Grace on bagpipes. An honor guard presented a mourning family with an American flag and the chief gave a speech and awarded the department medal of honor.  Zeus may have been a dog, but he was one of them just the same.  "It has been a hard thing to go through," said Boynton Beach officer Robert Thomas as he surveyed a reception thick with fellow officers from throughout the state. "But this is phenomenal."  Zeus died about 6:30 a.m. May 20 after he, Thomas and fellow officer Stewart Steele surprised a burglary suspect in the Medication Station on Woolbright Road. Seventeen-year-old James Connelly traded gunfire with Thomas in the pharmacy.  
  At least one bullet hit Thomas' bulletproof vest, and he is still recuperating from injuries to his torso and one finger.  Police used tear gas in an attempt to flush out the suspect and firefighters had to put out a subsequent blaze at the store at 141 E. Woolbright Road before officers entered to find Connelly and Zeus dead inside. Tests are still pending 10 days later to determine whether gunshots, fire or smoke killed Connelly and Zeus.  There were no public services for Connelly. His body was unceremoniously cremated last week in Broward County.  But officers came from as far away as Jacksonville to pay their respects for Zeus during a 45-minute ceremony at Caloosa Regional Park. Many had K-9 partners of their own.  At least one, Lt. Robert Musco of Delray Beach, knew what Thomas and his family were going through. Musco's K-9 partner, Cello, died of injuries suffered while tracking suspected car thieves in 1984.  "You spend 24 hours a day with the dog," Musco said. "You even take them on vacations."  The police contingent was joined by about 200 civilians, some in tears, who came to pay tribute to the police dog.  Boynton Beach officers clearly were moved by the outpouring of sympathy.  "Honestly, it makes me want to cry," said Steele, who responded to an alarm call at the pharmacy just before Thomas and Zeus arrived.  Thomas, his wife and three children seemed to hold back tears through the ceremony at the park and a reception later at the department's Fraternal Order of Police lodge on Miner Road. "He (Zeus) was an important part of my family for seven years," Thomas said. "And he died intervening on my behalf."  Thomas said Zeus "alerted," after entering the pharmacy that Sunday morning, the dog's bark tipped Thomas and Steele to Connelly's position in the building.  "Had it not been for his alert, I would have entered the building in a different way," Thomas said.  The officer said he was recovering from his wounds and eager to get back to work.  Zeus is always in my thoughts," he said. "Every day I wake up and I think about him."  Zeus is gone, but his death has allowed police to buy two more police dogs.The outpouring of support from the community after the German shepherd's death in a burning building on May 20 provided the Police Department with enough money to buy two dogs for its K-9.

Man, dog killed, officer wounded at pharmacy
At sunrise Sunday, police officers Stewart Steele, Robert Thomas and police dog Zeus responded to an alarm at a local pharmacy. The front door to the Medication Station at 141 E. Woolbright Road was open when they arrived at 6:32 and prepared to enter. Four minutes later, Steele radioed dispatchers to say that Thomas had been shot by a man inside the store and that they were heading to Bethesda Memorial Hospital. Several hours later -- following a police standoff and a fire that gutted part of the pharmacy after police tossed in tear gas-like chemicals -- a police SWAT team went in and found the bodies of Zeus and an unidentified man. Details about what happened in the four minutes after police arrived at the pharmacy -- and what caused the fire -- are still sketchy, police spokeswoman Sgt. Wendy Danysh said late Sunday. Police did not identify the suspect Sunday, release his cause of death or reveal possible motives. It's also unclear how Zeus died, Danysh said. The Palm Beach County Medical Examiner's Office will examine the dog today. Thomas, a 14-year veteran, was wearing body armor, which protected him from the bullet that hit him. He was stable and in good condition at Bethesda Memorial Hospital Sunday evening, according to a nursing supervisor. He was recovering from injuries caused by the impact of the bullet hitting the armor on the front of his torso, Danysh said. But it wasn't clear whether Zeus, a 9-year-old German shepherd, was wearing his department-issue bulletproof vest. After Sunday morning's shooting, police surrounded the building. A few hours later the pharmacy building caught fire shortly after police threw two types of chemicals similar to tear gas into the business to try to force the suspect out. Although firefighters had been standing by as a precaution, the fire damaged much of the inside of the building, specifically on its north side, said Mike Smollen, Boynton Beach Fire-Rescue battalion chief. The cause of the fire was unknown Sunday, according to Smollen. "There's no telling what started it at this point," Smollen said. "It could be anything from the guy himself, or I've heard stories that tear gas can start it. We'll just have to wait and see." Smollen said State Attorney Barry Krischer was on the scene and borrowed a pair of firefighter's boots to inspect the store after the incident. The owner of the Medication Station, David Goodmanson, was out of town Sunday and could not be reached, his son said when a reporter called his home. A small crowd gathered in the parking lot of a strip mall near the store to watch as firefighters and police inspected the building, an independent pharmacy that has a loyal customer base. John Pacy, a veterinarian who lives nearby, said he walked down to the pharmacy after noticing a police helicopter overhead. He stayed on the scene for a few hours, waiting for police to remove Zeus from the building. "I called the animal emergency clinic and had two doctors on standby in surgery, ready and waiting," he said. Because Pacy, who works at Golfview Animal Hospital in West Palm Beach, was not near his office, paramedics offered their supplies for him to use. But he heard about 11:30 that Zeus had died in the building. "It's tragic," he said. "I wish there was something more we could've done." Warren Rogers, 50, who lived a few blocks from the pharmacy and regularly used it said it always reminded him of "an old-fashioned mom-and-pop pharmacy."  "It's so strange to see smoke coming out of there," he said. It was still unclear Sunday evening what the suspect was doing in the pharmacy, Danysh said, or why he fired shots. Drugs and cash were stolen from the pharmacy in a February burglary, she said. Delray Beach police are investigating a May 14 incident during which a man pointed a gun at a Walgreen's pharmacist and demanded the prescription drug OxyContin. Danysh could not say whether this incident was related to the drug. A child who answered the phone at Thomas' home Sunday said there was no adult available for comment. Thomas, 42, became Zeus' trainer in 1994, when the department imported him from France. Most police dogs live in their handlers' homes. "Zeus was a sweet family dog. He was a sweet animal and a good worker," Danysh said. His death was being mourned by a force he had served since 1994. Officers are treating Zeus' passing as a death in the family. Zeus was the second Boynton Beach police dog to die on duty; the first was killed nearly 20 years ago when a Florida Highway Patrol trooper shot the dog during a chase. Zeus was trained to detect narcotics as well as to search areas, buildings and articles, track suspects and control crowds. Together, Thomas and Zeus earned numerous accolades in police dog competitions, crime fighting and in the community, visiting local schools to teach students about police dogs. "It's so hard in that situation, not just for the officer but for his family and everyone who knows the dog,"  Danysh said, Zeus will be mourned and honored as any human would be. "We have lost an officer," she said. Staff writers George Bennett and Kimberly Miller and database editor Christine Stapleton contributed to this story. Palm Beach Post

May 22, 2001BOYNTON BEACH -- A Boynton Beach teenager with a history of burglary and weapons arrests was identified Monday as the burglar killed inside a pharmacy during a Sunday standoff with police. James Connelly, 17, was found dead inside the Medication Station after tear gas canisters fired by the police SWAT team ignited the building. A police dog also died inside the blazing building.Connelly exchanged gunshots with a Boynton Beach police K-9 officer inside the pharmacy, police said. The officer was hit in the stomach, but his bulletproof vest stopped the bullet.It was unclear whether Connelly died from gunshot wounds or the fire. The Medical Examiner's Office said a cause of death has not yet been determined. The officer, Robert Thomas, 42, was released from the hospital on Monday after being treated for a severe bruise to his lower right abdomen caused by the bullet, spokeswoman Wendy Danysh said. A bullet also hit his right pinky finger. If Thomas returns from medical leave before the conclusion of the investigation, he will be placed on paid leave. Of the seven times Connelly has been arrested since 1998, six of them were by the Boynton Beach Police Department, state records show. Charges against him include burglary, armed burglary, auto theft, grand larceny and carrying a concealed firearm. Boynton Beach did not release many details of Sunday's standoff and particularly on their decision to repeatedly fire canisters of tear gas into the business. Danysh said she could not release details about how many times Thomas fired or how many tear gas canisters were fired into the business because the incident remains under investigation. Three of the aluminum tear gas canisters were found inside the business, while a fourth ricocheted, ending up outside, according to the Boynton Beach Fire Department. It's unknown how many others were destroyed by the fire. The state Fire Marshall's Office is investigating.The State Attorney's Office also is investigating the incident, as is customary in police-related shootings. The standoff began when police responded to a burglar alarm at the pharmacy at 6:17 a.m. and found an open door. Thomas, another officer and the police dog, Zeus, went inside to investigate. When Zeus located Connelly inside a room, Thomas was shot in an exchange of gunfire. The officers ran out but were unable to get Zeus to follow. SWAT members were called, and the area was closed off. Police called for Connelly to come out. When he refused, they fired several canisters of tear gas into the building. About 9:15 a.m., the building erupted in flames and was put out after 30 minutes. Connelly and the police dog, Zeus, were found in a back room, in what appeared to be a storage closet, said Boynton Beach Deputy Fire Marshal Bob Borden. Connelly had a puncture wound to his upper left eye possibly from a dog bite, Borden said. The tear gas canisters are hot after being fired and sometimes emit sparks, Borden said, which can easily start a fire. The fire could have spread quickly if the pharmacy had oxygen containers, alcohol bottles or other flammable substances, he said. "It's one of the hazards of this type of procedure," he said.Fire investigators have not yet determined where or how the fire started. The business had no rear exit and no sprinklers but didn't violate city fire codes, Borden said.  After his release from the hospital Monday, Thomas talked about losing Zeus -- his fellow officer and friend. He got the dog when Zeus was only 18 months old and has spent nearly seven years with him. He said that once he realized he was OK, he started thinking about his dog and was overcome by a rush of emotion. "It was like losing a family member, it was like losing another officer -- it was tough," Thomas said. Thomas called Zeus a hero."He was definitely telling me somebody was in there," he said. "I know what he's going to do for me. He won't back down and I know he'll give his life for me -- and he did just that." Staff writers Brad Hahn and Jon Burstein, staff researcher Kathryn Pease and WPTV Ch. 5 contributed to this report. 

 Sept. 4, 2001 MEET Officer Thomas's present partner: (click)
On Tuesday, officers introduced the dogs to the public.Ceasar, a 2-year-old male German shepherd, and Ully, a 16-month-old male shepherd, joined the Police Department about three weeks ago and are undergoing the required 400 hours of training.Ceasar, who was bred in Belgium, and Ully, who hails from the Netherlands, join the department's two other dogs.  Zeus, 9, died during a standoff with a burglary suspect in a local drugstore when he got trapped inside the burning building after being separated from his handler.Officer Robert Thomas, Zeus' handler and partner of seven years, was shot by the 17-year-old suspect when he and Zeus entered the Medication Station, a pharmacy on East Woolbright Road.Thomas was dragged out by a fellow officer and taken to the hospital. Zeus, who joined the department in 1994, later was found dead inside the pharmacy. A fire had erupted when police fired tear gas canisters inside."A lot of animal lovers came forward and wanted to do something," police spokesman Sgt. homas McCabe said. "People just kept sending money."  The dogs cost about $4,500 each, McCabe said

MEET Officer Thomas's present partner: K-9 Ceasar