LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) - There's heartache at the Niagara County Sheriff's Office. Deputies lost a brave colleague and a true best friend.
Rocky was a police dog who is remembered for both his intensity on the crime trail, and his incredibly gentle spirit with children. He is the first Niagara County Sheriff's K-9 to lose his life in the line of duty.
Rocky and Niagara County Sheriff's deputy Craig Beiter were a team. They trained together and fought crime together, sometimes tracking major homicide and drug cases.
Sgt. James Hildreth said, "He was Craig's partner. He was Craig's defender, but more important, he was Craig's friend."
Deputy Beiter was too distraught to speak on camera. He and Rocky were one of two K-9 teams called out to the vacant St. Mary's Hospital in Niagara Falls Sunday night. It was a burglary call and word was there was a chance that a woman could be in trouble.
Niagara Falls Police Capt. John DeMarco said, "Some neighbors over on the next street called and stated that they had seen some people inside with flashlights, and that they also heard a female who was calling out in distress."
While tracking possible clues on the roof, Rocky leaped over a three-foot retaining wall and fell about 60 feet to his death.
"When these dogs are task oriented, their focus is to accomplish their goal, and a lot of times barriers are non-existent to them," explained Sgt. Hildreth.
Rocky could be fighting crime one moment, said Deputy Beiter, and ten seconds later be gentle enough to be trusted with a room full of kindergartners.
Sheriff James Voutour said, "It's not just about seizing money and seizing drugs. It's about all the relationship Rocky builds with the kids and the county fairs, and everything he does good for the department."
Authorities arrested 24-year-old Marcus Johnson of Buffalo and said he admitted that he and others had entered the building in Falls to steel copper. He faces a slew of charges, but will not likely be charged in connection with the death of Rocky.
Deputy Craig Beiter's wife attended the news conference to help console him. The dog lived with their family and had also bonded with the Beiter's children. Deputy Beiter laid Rocky to rest at a private location Sunday night. A special service is being arranged by the Sheriff's office for an extraordinary K-9.
Police say they had the wrong man, and that Jerome Thagard, who spent four years in prison, didn't murder Steven Northrup in 2009. But the victim's family says otherwise.
A Good Samaritan died Wednesday while trying to assist the driver of a tractor trailer who got stuck in the snow.
A 26-year-old male employee of Ying's Wings and Things told police that Haibo Jiang, also known as Jimmy Ying, choked him until he passed out.
It was so treacherous in North Collins, the mayor had to issue a travel ban, and village snow plows were pulled off the roadways to keep drivers from trying to plow in zero visibility.
The Buffalo School Board unanimously approved plans to transform Burgard High School into a Manufacturing Magnet School on Wednesday,
Investigators are making progress in the case of a Chihuahua thrown in a ditch while zipped up in a Coors Light thermal bag.