VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - A K-9 officer with the Volusia County Sheriff's Office, killed as a result of friendly fire on Nov. 22 as deputies were pursuing a convicted felon on foot, was laid to rest on Friday in an emotional procession and ceremony.
According to an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, deputies were following Eddie Powell, who they say was armed with a gun, when shots were fired as Powell punched and fought with K-9 Forest while pointing a gun at one of the deputies. It was determined that Forest sustained two gunshot wounds during the incident, but it is unknown which deputy fired the rounds that struck the K-9.
The tribute to K-9 Forest began Friday morning with a processional starting in Deltona, where the dog served. His handler, Deputy Brandon Ellis, led the processional, consisting of K-9 units from the Sheriff's Office and local police departments.
After a nearly 14-mile journey, the processional arrived at Tommy Lawrence Arena at the Volusia County Fairgrounds in DeLand. Speakers at a memorial service included Sheriff Johnson, Deputy Ellis, Deltona K-9 Unit Supervisor Sergeant Brodie Hughes and Senior Deputy Michael Webb, who's the lead instructor for the Sheriff's Office's K-9 Unit.
"Your canines are ready in a moments notice to give their life for you, to protect you, to be a hero for you. Forest gave the ultimate to protect our society. We thank him for that," said Sheriff Johnson.
"I was so proud and at the highest high, and in the blink of an eye, I realized he had been shot," explained Deputy Ellis. "I was living my worst nightmare. Everything went out the window, and all I could think was getting Forest and getting him the help he needed."
The service, which was open to the public, included a helicopter flyover and 21-gun salute honoring K-9 Forest.
"I know now that God has designated me a personal guardian angel to watch over me for the rest of my career. I love you and miss you, buddy," said Deputy Ellis.
A K-9 Forest Memorial Fund has been established. Donations can be made at any TD Bank in Volusia County, or by mailing a check payable to the VCSO Charity Committee, Inc.
The mailing address is:
Volusia County Sheriff's Office Civil Section
250 N. Beach Street #117
Daytona Beach, FL 32114
Donations also can be made on-line at the official YouCaring fundraising page: https://www.youcaring.com/vcsok9forest-709423