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Lake County Sheriff Canine Dax is first dog ever to receive Valor Award

Deputy John Forlenza and K-9 Dax
Lake County Sheriff Deputy John Forlenza and K-9 Dax.

The 100 Club of Chicago has awarded two Lake County Sheriff’s deputies and Canine Dax their highest honor, the Valor Award, following the apprehension of a man who pointed a gun at them.

The award was given to Deputies Ray Gilbert and John Forlenza, and Canine Dax during a ceremony held at the Chicago Cultural Center on Thursday.

The trio were nominated for the award following an incident on November 2, 2018 where a car burglar pointed a gun at them.

Lake County Sheriff Sgt. Christopher Covelli said that the three responded to a 4:45 a.m. 911 call of a car burglary in progress in the 13200 block of West Greenview Drive in Wadsworth.

Covelli said that the homeowner called police after she saw a man, later identified as Angel X. Lopez, 23, of Ingleside, breaking into her car in the driveway. Lopez ran from Deputy Gilbert, Deputy Forlenza and Canine Dax after they located him a mile away from the scene.

Lopez entered a nearby idling car, which was not his, that was being warmed up in a driveway, Covelli said. He tried to escape but crashed the car and then pointed a gun at Deputy Forlenza.

Lake County Sheriff’s deputy Ray Gilbert.

Deputy Gilbert, who was providing cover to the canine team, shot Lopez in order to protect Deputy Forlenza, who was maintaining control of Canine Dax, Covelli said.

Lopez was taken to the hospital in critical condition but later recovered and was charged with attempted first-degree murder, aggravated vehicular hijacking, armed robbery, armed violence, unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon, two counts of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, unlawful possession of a stolen vehicle and aggravated assault.

This was the first time the 100 Club of Chicago awarded a canine the Valor Award, Covelli said.

“Ray, John, and K9 Dax are shining examples of courageous protectors of our community. These three faced a life-and-death situation and utilized their extensive training and experience to protect each other and ensure they weren’t severely injured or killed,” Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg said.


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