In response to a report of “suspicious activity” at a motel on September 2, 2023, officers from the Jonesboro Police Department in Clayton County, Georgia arrived on the scene. There were three individuals present when police arrived, and they were armed and in possession of marijuana. Two individuals were taken into custody, and one made a foot escape. They searched for him for eight hours.
Stephen Ford, a juvenile, was recognized as the fugitive who eluded police. K-9 Officer Waro was called into service by the Clayton Police Department to aid in the search for Ford. Waro tracked down Ford to a hidden location in the woods. The police ordered Ford to come out of hiding verbally. Instead, Ford opened fire on the police, hitting K-9 Officer Waro. After officers set up a search perimeter, they took Waro to an animal hospital, but he later died from his wounds.
Several hours later, Ford was once again spotted inside the search area. Ford was told to expose his hands by police, but he allegedly brandished a gun at them and refused. Officers fired their weapons. The gunfire hit Ford, and he died instantly. The incident is now being investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which has established that Ford was armed when he was shot.
The assistant police chief in Clayton, Bruce Parks, described the event as terrible. The results were not easy for the family of the dead or the police department, but Parks said at a news conference that officers aim to use their experience and training to generate “easy” outcomes.
Jonesboro Police Chief Tommy Henderson III sent his condolences to Clayton County Police and Stephen Ford’s family.
Since March of 2021, K-9 Officer Waro had served with the Clayton County Police Department. Unfortunately for Waro, the donation of a bulletproof and knifeproof vest from Vested Interest of K9’s Inc. did not arrive in time for him to wear it during the incident. K-9 Waro has received hero status from the agency he serves.