K9 Kuno sh tribune photo

Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department K9 Kuno is shown in this undated photo. Kuno was allegedly stabbed multiple times Monday evening in a basement in Gobles after locating a man with outstanding warrants who had allegedly been involved in a domestic assault earlier that evening.

GOBLES — A Gobles man was shot and killed last week by police after allegedly stabbing a Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department K-9 officer and attacking deputies.

The incident occurred at about 7:30 p.m. Monday, July 26, when deputies were called to a residence in the 300 block of North State Street in response to an alleged domestic assault.

When arriving at the scene, deputies contacted the victim who had reported the assault. Deputies discovered the suspect – identified as Jacob Matthew Bender – had outstanding warrants for his arrest and was hiding in a basement crawl space, according to a news release from the sheriff’s department.

A search warrant was obtained a couple hours later and a sheriff’s department K-9 unit responded.

During the search, K-9 officer Kuno found Bender in the crawl space. While deputies tried to apprehend Bender, he stabbed Kuno “multiple times,” the news release stated.

Deputies tried subduing Bender, but police said he charged one of the deputies in an attempt to stab them. A taser was used on the suspect, but to no effect. Bender continued to advance when a deputy shot him.

Life-saving efforts were attempted, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The sheriff’s department did not release the name of the officer who shot Bender. The department, as of last week, was not releasing any further information regarding the incident.

“The Michigan State Police are investigating the officer-involved shooting,” Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Jim Charon said.

The state police has separate units throughout the state that investigate officer-involved shootings.

The Paw Paw Police Department, Pokagon Tribal Police, Michigan State Police and Gobles Fire Department provided assistance during the incident Monday.

Kuno, who sustained multiple stab wounds and lacerations, was transported to the VCA Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center of Kalamazoo for treatment. He underwent surgery and is at home, recovering with his handler.

Earlier incident

This marks the second time in less than a year that an individual was shot by law enforcement officers in Van Buren County. The first officer-involved shooting occurred Feb. 25 in Paw Paw Township.

The incident unfolded at 9:30 p.m. when the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department received a call regarding a man cutting himself with a knife in the driveway of a home, just west of the Village of Paw Paw.

When officers arrived, a 49-year-old man from Wisconsin, had left the scene on foot.

A Van Buren County Canine Unit, along with a Paw Paw police officer, tracked the subject. They found the man holding a knife, who advanced toward the officer and deputy. When the man failed to comply with their orders, he was shot.

First aid was rendered and he was transported to Bronson Hospital. The man, who was initially listed in critical condition, has since recovered.

The officer and deputy, whose names have not yet been released, were placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into the incident by state police.

As of last week, the investigation into the February incident had not yet been completed, according to Specialist Lt. DuWayne Robinson, public information officer for the Michigan State Police Fifth District.

“The report is still under review and charges are being sought against the suspect,” Robinson said.

When asked if the two incidents on Feb. 25 and July 26 in which Van Buren County law enforcement officers had to shoot at armed suspects had anything to do with growing public distrust of police officers following the death of George Floyd who died after an officer placed his knee on the man’s neck for more than 8 minutes, or growing frustration over the length of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sheriff Dan Abbott said, “COVID has nothing to do with most of the shootings taking place across America. As far as ours, until I see both toxicology reports and drug screenings, I cannot make an accurate statement. As far as our community questioning police actions, law enforcement is very supported in Van Buren County. I hear it on a regular basis how supported we are by our community and it’s very appreciated.”