Tearful memorial service held for fallen San Jacinto police K9 Sultan

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- Hundreds turned out Wednesday for a memorial service honoring San Jacinto Police Department K9 Sultan, who was shot and killed in the line of duty.

The service was held at the War Dog Memorial near March Air Reserve Base in Riverside.

"Sultan saved my life and several other officers' lives that day," Deputy Mark Wallace, Sultan's handler, said in tears. "He went under the house without me telling him to. He was following his nose and doing what he was trained to do."

On Jan. 21, Wallace and Sultan were called to Hemet where a wanted felon was hiding in a crawlspace under a house. Sultan went in after 36-year-old Todd Hodge. The suspect shot the K9 in the neck.

Sultan died on the way to an animal hospital.

"I pulled Sultan's limp body from the back seat of my patrol car. He was gone," Wallace said.

Todd Hodge, a wanted felon who killed a police dog, was fatally shot by Riverside County deputies after emerging from a crawl space holding a handgun Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015.

Hodge was shot and killed by Riverside County sheriff's deputies following a nine-hour standoff after emerging from the residence with a handgun.

On Wednesday, members of law enforcement from all over the area and the community came to mourn Sultan's death. Other deputies in the K9 program say the loss has been devastating.

"They're just like a normal partner to us and it's like losing one of our own brothers or sisters," said Riverside County sheriff's deputy Robert Ochoa.

San Jacinto Police Department K9 Sultan is seen with his K9 handler Deputy Wallace in this photo.

Many at the ceremony said Sultan will be remembered as a hero. Wallace says his partner will always be much more than that to him.

"They say dogs are man's best friend. Sultan wasn't man's best friend. He was my best friend," Wallace said.

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