Police dog's death during mall shooting inspires Florida boy to pen letter of condolence to sheriff's deputy

A Florida boy penned a touching letter of condolence this week to the deputy who lost his K9 during a Christmas Eve shootout when the heroic dog died while saving two deputies' lives -- and officials have shared the note online.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office posted the letter from the boy, identified only as "Cooper." It was addressed to "Deputy Ryan," handler the 3-year-old K9, named Cigo, and included a story from the boy's mother.

She sent the letter to the sheriff's office, saying her son cried upon learning that Cigo had died during Monday's disturbance at the Mall at Wellington Green, in which two suspects were arrested, the Orlando Sentinel reported.


Cooper told his mom that losing Cigo was like the deputy losing his "buddy" and "now he's doesn't have his 'buddy' anymore," the mother said, according to the post. The next morning, Cooper decided to write the letter.

"Dear Deputy Ryan I am sorry that your dog got shot thank you for keeping me safe thank you for your service," the letter read. "Your dog did a lote (sic) for the world."

At the mall on Monday, two sheriff's deputies had been searching for two suspects wanted on warrants for attempted first-degree murder and robbery with a firearm, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Therese Barbera said.

One suspect, identified as Giovany Alvarez, 28, tried to run off after deputies secured an area of the mall parking lot in an attempt to apprehend the suspects as they left the mall, the spokeswoman said.

Cigo chased Alvarez, who fired multiple times, striking the dog, officials told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. The two deputies returned fire, injuring the suspect.

The second suspect, identified as Justin Vazquez, 19, surrendered immediately, authorities said.


Alvarez was hospitalized Tuesday in serious condition, Barbera said.

"Keep arresting the bad guys and one day I hope I can met you and your new dog!!" Cooper wrote to Ryan.

Officials showed Cooper's letter to Deputy Ryan, and said he was "truly moved" by the boy's gesture and "loved it," according to the sheriff's office.

As for Cigo, Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said the dog "did his job, giving his life to save and protect our own."

The dog was treated at a veterinarian emergency center after the shooting but died during surgery, the Miami Herald reported.

The mall's operators created a memorial for Cigo in the parking lot. The sheriff's office plans a memorial service for the dog on Jan. 10.

"You left your paw prints on our hearts forever," the sheriff's office said in an online tribute to Cigo.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.