Caroline MacGregor Published

West Virginia Police Department Mourns Loss Of K-9 Axel


Updated Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022 at 10:15 a.m.

The funeral for Charleston K-9 officer Axel will take place Thursday at 2 p.m. in the Grand Hall of the Charleston Coliseum. Visitation will start at noon and is open to the public.

According to city officials, Civic Center Drive will be accessible for Coliseum and Convention Center parking. Two lanes of Quarrier Street will be closed beginning at 11 a.m. at Clendenin Street.

Charleston Police Chief James “Tyke” Hunt said K-9 Axel was shot Saturday at close range by wanted felon, 50-year-old Samuel Paul Ranson of Charleston.

Police were dispatched to a home on East Point Drive late Saturday night. Hunt said Ranson was trying to flee when he shot the police dog within “arms reach” of two police officers, including Axel’s handler, Ptl. Clendenin.

Hunt said the officers returned fire. Ranson, who was wanted on an active felony warrant of malicious wounding charges in connection with a recent stabbing, was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

A procession for K-9 Axel was held on Sunday and Charleston Mayor Amy Goodwin ordered city flags to be lowered to half staff in honor of the fallen K-9.

Axel was one of six canines working with the police station. Born in the Czech Republic, the dog was brought to the department in early 2021 from a kennel in North Carolina.

“I never want to see any loss of life in the city of Charleston,” said Hunt. Even for the family members of the offender, you know that’s still someone’s son, brother, grandchild. But for us, your police department, we lost an officer.”

K-9 Axel will be honored during a funeral service later this week. Details will be announced by city officials.

Hunt said the department will submit its full report on the shooting to the Kanawha County prosecutor’s office.