I’ve been sitting on this chapter in my life for 3 years. I wanted to let you know what an impact your story made on me, my family, and the community that I work in. My name is Tom Price and I’m a police officer in St Clair Shores MI. I’ve been a police officer for 26 years and I have the pleasure of being a K9 handler. In 2016 I was chosen to begin my K9 career and went to a kennel in Ohio to pick out my new partner. For a few weeks before I made the drive my family and I were trying to come up with a list of names for my future partner. We had a great list going, Brutis, Murph, and Axe to list a couple. It was like naming your children, it was difficult. During the drive I sat in the passenger seat staring out the window thinking what am I getting into. Halfway there I saw a what I would call a sign. Sitting on a fence was the most majestic sight. 20’ off of the roadway sat a Bald Eagle. My name list just got shorter, how could I not name my partner after American heroes. We got to the kennels and 5 new handlers tested our future partners and I was lucky enough to pick 2nd. I made my choice and started to walk around with him. I tried both names on him and Axe felt right. We made it back to Michigan and began our training and over the next 2 years we mad a large impact on the community. We did everything together, school events, trick or treating, SWAT training, and just getting out of the car to say hi to people. Then November 4th 2018 happened. It was a normal Sunday where we got dressed and Axe was excited to go to work. We were a little busy going from run to run but most of them were just simple calls for service. Then we were dispatched to a man with a gun call. We were the 3rd car there and when we got out of our car the suspect began running from officers. Axe and I began to run after him and I sent him for the apprehension. As Axe was getting near the suspect he pulled a gun and shot at us striking Axe. Axe turned and fled to safety while we continued to engage the suspect. After I lost sight of the suspect I turned to find Axe laying in a doorway with a traumatic wound. I picked him and drove to the emergency vet but there was nothing they could do for him.
Over the next couple of days I went through the range of emotions from wanting to quit to this is bull shit, to I have so much more to give to my community and I’m not done. The thing that caught me off guard was the community reaching out to my department and reaching out to my family. The amount of cards, letters, pictures, and trinkets left at the station shows that Axe and I were doing something special in the community and that he was missed. One of my partners asked that people would drop off pictures that they had from their interactions with Axe and they responded with hundreds of photos. At the memorial for Axe we filled a church with a couple thousand people. We were overwhelmed by everything.
A little while after I got back to work I received and email from Corky and Donna Axelson. We exchanged several emails and luck had it that they would be in the Detroit area. My family and I met them for dinner and it felt like were old friends sitting down talking and eating. They told us stories of Matt growing up and his passion for his team. Just hearing them talk made me realize that I made the correct decision when I named my partner after their son.
To this day I am for ever grateful to my partner for getting me home that night. If it wasn’t for him the 5 officers on scene might not have been able to go home to their families . Not a day doesn’t go by that I don’t think about our Axe’s.
A grateful American,