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Friday, April 19, 2024

Marion sheriff’s office invites public to attend memorial service for K-9 Leo

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office is inviting the community to attend a memorial service for Leo, a K-9 who passed away after being shot in the line of duty earlier this month.

Your presence and support mean a lot to us as we pay tribute to K-9 Leo’s dedication and service to Marion County,” stated the sheriff’s office on social media.

MCSO K9 Leo
The sheriff’s office will host a memorial service for K-9 Leo on March 4, and it is open to the public. (Photo: Marion County Sheriff’s Office)

The memorial service will begin at 10 a.m. on Monday, March 4, in front of MCSO Main Operations located at 692 NW 30th Avenue in Ocala. It is open to all who wish to attend and pay their respects to K-9 Leo.

For those unable to attend, a livestream of the memorial service will be available on the Marion County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.

“Let us come together to honor and remember the courage, loyalty, and sacrifice of our beloved K-9 Leo,” stated the sheriff’s office.

Earlier this month, on Saturday, February 17, Leo sustained gunshot wounds in a shooting incident.

At around 9 a.m. on the morning of the shooting, MCSO deputies responded to the 900 block of NE 144th Court in Silver Springs in reference to a situation involving a suspect accused of battery by strangulation. Upon arrival at the incident location, deputies located the suspect in the backyard of a nearby home.

Leo immediately charged toward the suspect who was threatening the deputies with a gun. During the confrontation, the suspect shot Leo before deputies returned fire, killing the suspect.

MCSO K 9 Leo with handler
MCSO K-9 Leo with his handler, Corporal Justin Tortora. (Photo: Marion County Sheriff’s Office)

“Leo did exactly what he was trained to do…. and that is to fearlessly defend and protect those deputies. To charge directly at danger,” said Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods. 

Marion County Fire Rescue rushed Leo to UF Veterinary Hospital in Gainesville, and several agencies – the Ocala Police Department, Florida Highway Patrol, and Gainesville Police Department – helped to clear traffic as Leo was transported.

While hospitalized, Leo maintained his fighting spirit, and he was listed in critical but stable condition on Monday, February 19. However, on the following morning, he ultimately succumbed to his injuries.

Speaking of Leo, Sheriff Woods stated that “his passing will be felt by all of us here in my office and in our community.”

The sheriff added that the unique bond between a law enforcement K-9 and their handler “binds them to some extraordinary levels of loyalty, love, and unwavering determination.”