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Bruno's K9 handler recounts Anaheim shooting

Bruno's K9 handler, Anaheim Officer R.J. Young, spoke out Wednesday for the first time since last week's shooting.
March 26, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
It truly is a miracle that "Bruno," a German shepherd with the Anaheim Police Department, is alive today. He was shot in the face last week during a confrontation with an armed suspect. Bruno's K9 handler, Officer R.J. Young, spoke out Wednesday for the first time since the shooting.

"Every day is better than the last and that's all we can hope for," said Young.

Young says he's visited the 7-year-old German shepherd every day since he witnessed the K9 being shot in front of him while on duty.

"The movie keeps playing in your head and it seems like it's such a lengthy thing, but when you look back in the reality of it, it was a blink of an eye. It was so fast," said Young.

Bruno and Anaheim officers were searching for a suspect who allegedly shot at probation officers. Bruno was just 10 feet in front of Young when police say the suspect, later identified as 21-year-old Robert Moreno Jr., fired his weapon.

"I heard him yelp. I saw a lot of blood. He was up on his hind legs. He came down. He immediately spun around looking for me," said Young. "It literally looked like half of his face was gone."

As officers returned fire, killing Moreno, Young says he grabbed Bruno and raced to the hospital.

"About half way there, he collapsed in the back. I started banging on the kennel, telling him, 'Hey buddy,' calling his name. 'Hey buddy! Hang in there. We're almost there,'" Young recalled.

Bruno underwent three and a half hours of surgery. Part of his lung had to be removed. He remains on oxygen to help him breathe.

"Seeing him look helpless, compared to how I'm used to seeing him so full of energy and life, it just broke my heart over and over and over again," said Young's wife, Rachel.

Officer Young says chances are that Bruno will have to be retired. But he'll always remain a part of the family, which includes watching over their 3-month-old daughter, Grace.

"He checks on her at night when she's in her crib. We watch him on the video monitor going in there and peeking on her," said Rachel.

Officer Young says he can't help but think about what Bruno did, not only for him, but three other officers in the line of fire.

"There's no doubt in my mind that he took a bullet that would have ended up in one of us," he said.


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