The F.A.S.T. Co. donates sets of memorial cards to all partners
I need your help to inform me of such losses.
In Loving Memory of
June 25, 2004
Handler/Partner: Officer Mike Colton
St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office
Sheriff Ken J Mascara
4700 W Midway Rd - Fort Pierce, Florida 34981
Poem read by Master Deputy Michael Colton at the June 30 funeral of his partner K9 Vasko
Guardians Of The Night
Trust in me my friend for I am your comrade.
I will protect you with my last breath
When all others have left you
And the loneliness of the night closes in,
I will be at your side.
Together we will conquer all obstacles,
And search out those who might wish harm to others.
All I ask of you is compassion,
the caring touch of your hands.
It is for you that I will unselfishly give my life
And spend my nights unrested.
Although our days together
may be marked by the passing of the seasons
know that each day at your side is my reward.
My days are measured by the coming and going of your footsteps.
I anticipate them at every opening of the door.
You are the voice of caring when I am ill.
The voice of authority when I've done wrong.
Do not chastise me unduly for I am your right arm,
The sword at your side.
I attempt to do only what you bid of me.
I seek only to please you and remain in your favor.
Together you and I shall experience a bond
Only others like us will understand.
When outsiders see us together
Their envy will be measured by their disdain.
I will quietly listen to you and pass no judgment,
Nor will your spoken words be repeated.
I will remain ever silent,
Ever vigilant, ever loyal.
And when our time together is done and you move on in the world,
Remember me with kind thoughts and tales,
For a time we were unbeatable,
Nothing passed among us undetected.
If we should meet again on another street,
I will gladly take up your fight,
I am a Police Working Dog and together
We are guardians of the night.
Late Friday morning, June 25, K-9 "Vasko", partner of St. Lucie County Deputy Mike Colton, passed away due to complications after being shot by a car-jacking suspect. Deputy Colton and K-9 "Vasko" were in foot pursuit of one of two suspects who had bailed out of the vehicle when a shot rang out. K-9 "Vasko" caught up to one of the suspects and engaged him, when the suspect fired two additional shots, one striking K-9 "Vasko" on the right side of his muzzle, approximately 1 1/2" below the eye. Deputy Colton returned fire and hit the suspect several times. K-9 "Vasko" was then recalled to his handler and once assisting deputies arrived the K-9 was rushed to the Animal Emergency Center in Ft. Pierce, where a team of surgeons worked on K-9 "Vasko throughout the night. K-9 Teams from the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office, the Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office, the Ft. Pierce Police Departmewnt, the Port St. Lucie Police Department, and the Martin County Sheriff's Office responded to assist in searching for the second suspect, who was later apprehended. An X-ray showed that the bullet, a .22 caliber, was lodged in the back of K-9 "Vasko's" neck, but surgeons were unable to physically locate it. It was decided to leave the bullet in the dog in order to prevent him from going into deep shock from the surgery. At 0500 hours K-9 "Vasko" was resting comfortably and his condition was improving, to the satisfaction of the surgeons and the many K-9 officers who maintained a vigil at the Animal Emergency Center throughout the night and morning. Two K-9's, one from the Martin County Sheriff's Office and one from the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office, donated blood to K-9 "Vasko." Sometime later in the morning K-9 "Vasko" suffered two heart attacks,
which took his life.
Mourners pack county civic center to honor K-9 Vasko who paid the ultimate price capturing armed carjacker
As a six-mile-long motorcade made its way to the St. Lucie County civic center June 30, hundreds of area residents took their seats for the funeral of St. Lucie County Sheriff’s K9 Vasko. Vasko, 5, died five days earlier from gunshot wounds he received while subduing an armed carjacking and kidnapping suspect and protecting his partner, Master Deputy Michael Colton. Vasko was pronounced dead shortly after noon June 25 after all-night efforts by veterinary specialists of the Animal Emergency Center to keep Vasko alive.The funeral filled the civic center, with an estimated 800 members of law enforcement agencies and the public, in addition to 70 police K9 teams from as far away as Bay County, Florida. “Of course, Vasko’s heart will never stop,” said Sheriff Ken J. Mascara in his eulogy. “It beats within every person whose life Vasko touched. It beats within each police service dog. And it beats within each of us.” In recognition of K9 Vasko’s heroic sacrifice, Sheriff Mascara posthumously awarded Vasko the Sheriff's Office Medal of Honor and Life Saving Award. Master Deputy Colton, flanked by two of his children, Courtney, 8, and Mark, 11, read the well known poem “Guardians of the Night”(he text of the poem is posted on the home page of the Sheriff's Office web site) and pledged to remain a K9 Deputy.
The memorial service included a 21 gun salute by a multi-agency honor guard, a “missing man” formation fly-over by the Sheriff's Office Aviation Unit and a touching four minute video produced by St. Lucie County media specialists. Punctuating the service were the pants and occasional barks from six dozen police service dogs. “Let them make a little noise,” said Master Deputy Colton from the rostrum, obviously comforted by the presence of the animals. “That’s what they’re here for.” The June 25 incident that claimed Vasko’s life was his 91st apprehension and the first line-of-duty death of a St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office police service dog since the K9 Unit’s creation in 1985. The incident began the night of June 24 when 18-year-old Bernard Levy and 19-year-old Clemon A. Sneed, both from Fort Pierce, stole a white-over-blue Cadillac from Ramon Gandy of Sheraton Plaza as he sat in front of his home listening to his car radio. The two forced Gandy into the trunk of his car and sped off. 9-1-1 dispatchers sent deputies to the area because neighborhood residents heard gunshots. Shortly after deputies spotted the car, Levy and Sneed abandoned it and tried to run away. Master Deputy Colton and Vasko were nearby and ran after Levy, who was carrying a .22-caliber revolver recovered later by deputies. When the suspects wouldn’t stop, Master Deputy Colton released Vasko. As Vasko neared Levy, he fired the gunshots that later claimed Vasko’s life. Vasko protected his partner and other deputies and managed to apprehend Levy, holding his leg in the grip of his jaws and keeping him on the ground until Colton recalled him. When Levy raised his gun in Colton’s direction, the deputy fired several gunshots to defend himself, incapacitating Levy. Colton, a 16-year Sheriff's Office veteran, has been with the Sheriff's Office K-9 Unit for eight years. After doctors performed leg surgery on Levy at an Orlando trauma center, deputies took him to the St. Lucie County jail. Shortly after the shooting, deputies found Sneed at his north-county home nearby and took him to jail. In addition to facing charges of attempted murder of a police officer and murder of a police dog, armed carjacking and kidnapping, Levy also faces attempted kidnapping-with-a-firearm and sexual-battery charges from the Fort Pierce Police Department and charges of carjacking with a deadly weapon and kidnapping from the Indian River County Sheriff's Office. By Mark Weinberg
Lucie County Sheriff's Office K-9 Unit dates to
1985. *With the death of Vasko, the unit consists
of three German shepherds and two narcotics dogs: a
Golden retriever and a black Labrador. This is the
first fatality for the unit. A dog was stabbed in
the line of duty in the late 1980s, but it recovered
and returned to duty.
Thank you for information Officer
By Mark Weinberg
April 5, 2004
Partner: Deputy Byrd Huber
White County Sheriff's Dept.
108 No. Main Cross
Carmi, IL 62821
VADER IS A 6 YEAR OLD GERMAN SHEPHERD. DEPUTY BYRD AND VADER HAVE BEEN TOGETHER SINCE GRADUATING FROM THE EVANSVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT K9 ACADEMY (NOW TOP DOGS). VADER WAS BORN IN HOLLAND IN JULY OF 1995. WE GRADUATED FROM THE ACADEMY IN AUG OF 1996.