CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The handler of fallen Virginia State Police K-9 Vader said his partner was of his best friends.
Vader was killed last week in Sussex County by murder suspect, Tramaine Poole, during a shootout with police.
“Vader, a K-9, a trooper, but also one of my best friends.,” said Vader’s handler. “Vader was not only my dog, he was my boy. I loved him and he loved me even more. It breaks my heart to know that he is gone, but I know he was one of the good guys and he has made it to a better place. I always watched out for him and his safety; now, he is watching out for me. Vader will not be forgotten and he will always be loved.”
One day after being killed in the line of duty, a memorial has been created for Virginia State Police K-9 ‘Vader.’
Vader, a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois, died during a police pursuit on I-95 after an out-of-state murder suspect fired shots through a trooper’s vehicle, striking Vader in the backseat.
Vader, who was a narcotics detection K-9, is the second Virginia State Police canine to be killed in the line of duty since the canine program began in 1961. In 1962, ‘Baron’ was struck and killed by a vehicle while tracking an escaped inmate in Powhatan County.
“Our canine program is essential in so much of what we do as a Department to achieve our public safety mission. We are all deeply saddened by the loss of Vader and are forever grateful for his sacrifice and selfless service to the state police and the Commonwealth. For our canine handlers, their dogs are more than just a partner on the job. They are their protectors, their constant companion and confidant on the road. Vader was family.” — VSP Superintendent Colonel Gary T. Settle
The suspect who fired the shots that killed Vader, Tramaine Poole, was wanted for murdering the best friend of his wife in front of her two children back in May. He was also wanted for the attempted murder of his wife in New Haven, Connecticut.
“Poole did not leave this world without taking another life,” New Haven Police Chief Anthony Campbell said during a Thursday morning press conference. “The life of Virginia State Trooper canine Vader.”
Vader had recently graduated from State Police narcotics training in December.
Vader’s end of watch memorial sits outside of VSP administrative headquarters in Chesterfield County.
State Police is working on arrangements for a memorial service but has not yet released any specific details.