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Injured CHP Dog Has Surgery; Suspect Sought

May 14, 2003|Mai Tran | Times Staff Writer

Rusty, a 65-pound Belgian Malinois police dog injured on duty, underwent surgery and was released from a veterinary hospital Tuesday, a day after authorities said a parolee resisted arrest and ran over him and his handler.

Police are searching for James Darryl Lorenz, 33, who authorities said severed 9 inches of Rusty's foot-long tail and left a California Highway Patrol officer with minor injuries.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Lorenz, alleging two felonies: attempted murder of a police officer and causing injury to a police dog.

"The dog is doing OK," said Garden Grove Police Sgt. Mike Handfield. "He was in surgery, and they were pretty confident that he'll be back to service with no tail." Doctors had to amputate the tail so Rusty could heal properly, Handfield said.

The CHP officer, Jason Nicoletti, 30, an eight-year veteran, was doing radar enforcement with Rusty at Katella Avenue, west of Gilbert Street in an unincorporated area about 7:30 p.m. Monday when he was flagged down by a motorist, Handfield said. The motorist reported that two people were arguing inside a car that authorities say was driven by Lorenz.

When Nicoletti tried to stop the car to investigate, Handfield said, Lorenz pulled into a convenience store parking lot and ran. The officer chased Lorenz, who jumped a fence and ran through backyards. The woman in the car walked away. When Lorenz returned to his car, Nicoletti let Rusty out of the police car. Police said Lorenz opened his door and sped backward, dragging the officer and severing part of the dog's tail.

The officer, bleeding from his own injuries, rushed Rusty to a nearby animal shelter, where he was transferred to a pet hospital for surgery on his tail and treatment for cuts and scrapes to his face and paws. The officer was treated for cuts and scrapes on his arms and legs and returned to work Tuesday.

Rusty, a 2-year-old tan dog with a black face and ears, recently graduated from K-9 training school with his handler in Sacramento; he has been on the job about five weeks. Officials said he will take this week off to recover from his injuries.

"We need to see how [Rusty] is going to deal with cars or if there are any psychological problems," said CHP spokesman Garry Goldenberg.

The unidentified woman with Lorenz was found about a quarter-mile away. Police arrested her on suspicion of delaying and obstructing a police officer.

Lorenz had been convicted of possession of drugs, auto theft and burglary and was recently placed on parole. An arrest warrant was issued for him last month when he failed to report to his parole officer, police said.

Lorenz -- also known as Jimmy Lorenz, "Red" and "Dirty Red" -- is described as white, in his 30s, about 5 feet 8, weighing 180 pounds with blondish orange hair and tattoos of a skull, demons, skeletons and a clown on his arms.

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