MARSTONS MILLS, Mass. — A Yarmouth, Mass., K-9 police officer was fatally shot and his dog was wounded by a suspect who was hiding in the attic of a Marstons Mills home as cops searched the house Thursday afternoon, police said.
K-9 officer Sean Gannon, 32, later died at Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis, Mass.
The suspect, later identified as Thomas Latanowich, 29, remained barricaded in the house for several hours in the Barnstable village of Marstons Mills as SWAT teams ringed the house. Latanowich was later taken into custody. He is set to be arraigned on a murder charge today in Barnstable District Court.
“Around 3:30, a local police officer (was) shot during a warrant service at 109 Blueberry Lane, Barnstable,” state police spokesman David Procopio told the Herald in an email.
Police, including the K-9 team, had gone to the house to arrest Latanowich, who was wanted on a prior charge and was considered dangerous.
Latanowich — whose last known address was in Somerville, Mass. — was apparently hiding in the attic and shot Gannon and his dog as the K-9 team started to enter the attic, a law enforcement official confirmed.
As police and SWAT officers swarmed the area about 4 p.m., neighbor John Machado and his wife, Jacqueline, said cops told them they had to leave the area.
“We were just returning home, we were on an errand, when police were arriving at that point,” John Machado said. “I was outside doing yard work when it all took place.”
“Police told us to leave because it was dangerous. I was told to leave because it was a highly dangerous situation,” Jacqueline Machado said. “The police were out with their cars and they had their guns.
“We’re in our car, just driving around because we can’t go back home. No neighbors were around. The police were very good, very skilled and very in control of the situation,” she added.
Police officers began gathering at the hospital before word came that Gannon had died. Later, a procession of police cruisers with their blue lights flashing escorted the fallen officer’s body as it was moved from the hospital to the medical examiner’s office.
State Rep. Tim Whelan (R-Brewster), a former state police sergeant, said he knew Gannon while serving as a trooper in Yarmouth.
“Officer Gannon truly was among the best of the best on the department. And so well-liked and so well-respected. … This one is going to hurt. This one is going to hurt for a long time. It’s going to leave a big void in the heart of law enforcement that it’s going to take a long time to fill,” Whelan said. “You don’t get on to K-9, you don’t get a specialty assignment like that without establishing a strong work record, strong character. … He was all of that.”
Yarmouth police initially posted an image on their Facebook page of a police badge with a black band of mourning, then later identified Gannon and wrote: “With deep sorrow and heavy hearts, the Yarmouth Police Department reports the loss of Officer Sean Gannon. Officer Sean Gannon was killed in the line of duty today.”
Gannon was well-known throughout southeastern Massachusetts, having trained with cops from other departments while providing K-9 service throughout the region. There was an outpouring of support from multiple police departments on social media last night.
The region’s SWAT agency, SEMLEC, tweeted, “What a horrible tragedy. The Yarmouth Police Officer was shot and killed today protecting his community from a dangerous person. Prayers to the officer, his family and his agency. RIP brother. Remember his sacrifice.”
Gov. Charlie Baker said in a statement, “Heartbroken to learn of the passing of Officer Gannon. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, loved ones and the Yarmouth Police after this tragic loss. MA is blessed to have courageous men & women who put their lives on the line to protect our communities every day. #lodd”