Police dog takes down gunman in DeSoto railroad yard

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DESOTO, MO (KTVI) - A police dog takes down a gunman in a train yard.  It sounds like a scene from movie.  But in De Soto, Missouri, there is a real life story of canine heroics.

Police say two men flagged down a squad car around 1:30am Sunday and reported a man in military fatigues with what looked like a gun.

Police say officers found the suspect, 24, hiding in the Union Pacific train yard along South Main Street.

It was a good thing Zac, the police dog, was on duty.

“Zac’s wonderful.  I can’t say enough good things about Zac. He helped us out tremendously that night,” said Capt. Dan Contarini of the DeSoto Police Department.

He said Zac and his handler, Nick Cusanelli, were among those responding. Capt. Contarini says they spotted the suspect lying between two rows of parked train cars, “They gave him commands to show his hands.  Instead, he got to his feet and pulled what we later learned to be a gun out of his waist band and pointed it at the officers.”

The suspect then ran and tossed the gun into weeds as officers gave chase, though officers couldn’t see that in the dark, police said.

“[Officers] gave a warning and then released our canine, Zac, an 8-year-old Belgian Malinois.  Zac ran him down, caught him and took him to the ground and held him until the officers got there,” Capt. Contarini explained.

He said the suspect was hospitalized for treatment of his bite wounds. Zac even sniffed out the suspect’s weapon.

The suspect had been at the nearby Fatboys restaurant and bar, earlier.

“We had one of our officers ride in the ambulance with the suspect.  Then Zac searched the area and found the gun, so he was having a big night,” Capt. Contarini said.

Fatboys owner, Amber Foeller, confirmed workers had earlier asked the suspect to leave after he tried to steal someone’s jacket.  She said a worker later saw the suspect lurking outside, just after the bar closed.

“[The worker] called and said this guy we had asked to leave was walking around the building, peeping into the windows, I guess trying to see if that person was still in here that they were having the conflict with,” Foeller said.

“Zac did a good job.  Zac saved the guy’s life,” Foeller beamed.

The suspect also scuffled with officers after Zac took him down, police said.

Felony charges, including assault on police officers, unlawful use of a weapon, and resisting arrest are pending.

The suspect was out of a hospital and out of jail, Monday, after posting bail for traffic warrants from Maries County.   Police did not release his name.

Officer Cusanelli said Zac was responsible for nearly 100 arrests, from sniffing out drugs to taking down gunmen, in less than five years on the force.


  • Denny Long

    There should be a canine in every police cruiser regardless of the cost. It would save a lot of police lives. A good canine like a Shepard or a Doberman is worth their weight in gold to their human partner.

    • Savannah Moulder

      Union Pacific is the name of the railroad company in the town of De Soto. This is not referring to the towns of Union and Pacific in Missouri, so only the De Soto police were involved because the situation was only in De Soto.

      • Tom Hayes

        I should have said Union Pacific Railroad Police. I am very familiar with Desoto and the Union Pacific rail yards. If this guy was on UPRR property I would think the Desoto Police would have wanted the UPRR Police to assist in apprehending this guy.

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