Lake Wales community honors K-9 Max, killed in line of duty

Days ago, Lake Wales lost one of their own, K-9 Max, after he was killed in the line of duty while responding to a domestic violence call. Tuesday, Max was memorialized in a ceremony open to the public. 

Thursday, Max and his handler, Officer Jared Joyner were requested after 911 dispatchers received a call from a woman who said the suspect had pulled her out of a vehicle, beat her head on the concrete, choked her, and then shot a firearm multiple times before fleeing the area.

The suspect, 57-year-old convicted felon Earnest Borders, then returned a short time later. When officers attempted to apprehend him, they said he fled alongside railroad tracks and into a wooded area.

When Max apprehended Borders and had him by the ankle, Borders pulled out his gun and shot the police dog, killing him, officials said. Two officers, including Joyner, then opened fire on Borders, who was critically injured and soon succumbed to his injuries.

According to the Lake Wales Police Department, Max joined the agency when he was 21 months old in 2016. Max, a Belgian Malinois from The Netherlands, was described as "fearless."

Image 1 of 4

Photo showing items on a table at the memorial service for a Lake Wales K-9 that died in the line of duty

Chief Chris Velasquez said Max's training kept the situation from turning even more tragic.

Members of the Lake Wales Police Department and other Polk County agencies spoke to a large crowd at the Highpoint Church on North Scenic Highway. The service was also live-streamed on the Polk County government's Youtube page.

Photo: K9 Max with his handler in 2016

K9 Max poses in this 2016 photo with his handler, Lake Wales Officer Jared Joyner (Provided by Lake Wales Police Department)

Law enforcement honored Max outside the building after the service.

"There will be no viewing or graveside service," according to the police department. "Max has been cremated and will remain with his partner and family."

"He was very, very well-trained, he performed exactly as he was supposed to," the police chief said Thursday of the fallen K-9. "He ultimately saved the lives of police officers this morning. I fully, wholeheartedly believe that we would be speaking about dead police officers had that K-9 not been in service this morning."