K9 killed in the line of duty honored with touching custom casket

A K9 with the Herriman City Police Department in Utah was recently killed in the line of duty.

Officers asked a local auto body shop to create a custom casket to honor their one of a kind hero.

“Hondo is a special one and deserves nothing less. He really is a hero. This is our opportunity, or our way that we can give back a little bit,” RawTin owner John Ward told KUTV.

According to reports, Hondo died on February 13, while working alongside the U.S. Marshals’ Office. While Hondo and his partner were attempting to apprehend a dangerous fugitive, Hondo was shot and later died at a veterinary hospital.

At the time of the incident Hondo was not wearing any body armor, which the police department’s Lt. Cody Stromberg said in a statement was due to the quick nature of the situation.

“Thursday’s incident went from surveillance to apprehension to armed confrontation very rapidly and would not have allowed Sergeant Ricks time to outfit Hondo with his body armor prior to the shooting,” Stromberg wrote on Facebook.

In addition, he offered support for Ricks’ decision.

“We support Sergeant Ricks and will NOT second guess his decisions about the events leading up to Hondo’s death and would ask the same from our community.”

Immediately following Hondo’s death, the department reached out to RawTin Garage, an auto body shop that specializes in customizing cars and motorcycles. Previously RawTin did some work on the department’s motorcycles.

With only a 24-hour turnaround, the crew produced a custom casket fit for a hero.

“We had a lot of pressure,” Ward told KSLTV.

Despite the pressure, Ward and Keith Eccles worked through the night and into the morning in order to complete the casket on time.

In addition to a hand-painted image of Hondo, the casket featured images that symbolized Hondo’s connection to the police force and his community.

“In a weird way, it was kind of a spiritual experience,” Eccles said. “You feel like, by the time you’re done, you really got to know Hondo.”

“PSD Hondo was a true warrior and his actions last night ensured that his loving friend and partner would be able to return home to his wife, children and HPD family,” HPD Chief Troy Carr said during a press conference. “We mourn the loss of our member of our family, but we remember his sacrifice.”

During his five-year career, Hondo, a seven-year-old Belgian Malinois, helped with over 100 felony arrests and was involved with taking hundreds of pounds of drugs off the streets. Hondo and his partner were among the top K9 teams in the state.

Rest in peace, Hondo, and thank you for your service.

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