Published: Sep 09, 2010 2:32 AM EDT
Updated: Sep 08, 2010 11:19 PM EDT

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Flags fly at half-staff at Fort Myers PD as the department mourns the loss of one of its own.

“They become part of the family. As a canine officer, I spent more time with my dog than I did with my family. It's a very strong bond,” says Police Sgt. Pete Tarman.

Police are wearing the traditional mourning stripe across their badges in honor of Rosco, a four-year-old K9 officer killed while on duty.

Rosco was shot to death as he and his human partner chased the suspect following the armed robbery at the McDonald's on Colonial Blvd. Tuesday night.

“He died trying to protect his handler and the other officers there. He died trying to catch the bad guy,” says Tarman.

Like any other officer, human or animal, Rosco received training before he joined the force.

The man who imported the K9 into the country for training is North Port Police officer Noel Coward.

He said he was devastated when he heard the news.

“The dog was a very unique dog. He had like a light switch. He knew when he was at work and he knew when he was at home. He was just a beautiful and strong dog and he bonded with the handler and the handlers family,” says Coward.

Roscoe’s death will be treated like any other fallen officer- with dignity and respect.

“It's a very tragic event,” Tarman said. “The dog has earned the right to be mourned the way a person would.”

Another K9 officer, nine-year-old Axe was injured when a second suspect hit him with his car.

 Axe is in stable condition, but veterinarians at the emergency clinic want to keep an eye on him for the next day or so.