AKRON, Ohio — An Akron police K-9 officer and his dog chased down a teenager suspected in a rash of recent robberies in the Firestone Park neighborhood, officials said.
According to Lt. Michael Miller, a Family Dollar store on S. Main Street was robbed at gunpoint around 8:10 p.m. Monday night.
Police said a masked suspect came into the store with a rifle and demanded money from a clerk. Cash was taken from a register and the gunman ran out of the store.
Officer Jeff Edsall was at the police station when he heard the robbery call. He loaded up his police dog, a 6-year-old Belgian Malinois named "Justice", and headed towards the area.
Near the intersection of Firestone Parkway and Thornapple Avenue, Edsall spotted the suspect wearing all black.
"I got up to the corner and turned around and did a U-turn and when I was coming back, I saw him immediately. As soon as he saw me, he changed directions and he took off," Edsall said.
Edsall and the police dog got out of the cruiser and began running after the teen.
"This is a game for him. It's fun. He knows, first of all, that he gets to play tug, and secondly, dad's gonna praise him and tell him what a good boy he is," Edsall said.
After a short chase, Justice latched onto the suspect in the front yard of a home on Firestone Parkway until his handler and other officers caught up.
"It's rewarding for my dog. I love to see my dog succeed. Just as we love to see our kids succeed, I always feel like he's one of my kids, so I'm very proud," Edsall said.
Police said the teen suffered a minor bite to his leg and was treated at the scene.
Miller said the suspect admitted to his involvement in several armed robberies, including an incident in which a clerk was shot at Firestone Mini-Mart on November 20. The 26-year-old victim from that shooting remains hospitalized.
The teen has been charged with six counts of aggravated robbery, felonious assault and obstructing official business and is being held in the Summit County Juvenile Detention Center.
Police continue to look for at least one other person involved in the robberies.
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