A police dog searching for a pistol buried in a snowbank not only found the Ruger but apparently managed to fire it with its paw early Saturday.
No one was injured when Ivan, the Essex County Sheriff's Department canine, fired a bullet into a home, according to police. The 90-pound German Shepherd had been called to the city to look for the gun that police say was buried by a man involved in a chase.
Earlier in the night, Lawrence Police Officer John Hart said he heard gunshots fired inside a building - presumably by the Ruger - then saw three men leaving the area. The men sped away in a Honda Accord when Hart pulled behind them in his cruiser. In a report, Hart said he later noticed a man hop out of the Accord and bury something in the snow.
As police arrested the trio, Sheriff's Lt. John Pickles gave Ivan the command to start sniffing. The 2 1/2-year-old dog is specially trained to work in narcotics and help with police work. He "pawed at the snow, at which time a shot was discharged from the buried firearm," Hart wrote.
Police awakened residents of the home where the gun was pointed to make sure no one was harmed. Another officer ensured the pistol was secure, lest it fire again.
Police discovered the Ruger had been stolen last October in Manchester, N.H. The men involved in the chase, all from Lawrence, face various charges including unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition, receiving a firearm with a defaced serial number and receiving stolen property.
In the meantime, Ivan has become a media darling, though the newfound celebrity doesn't suit him. Ivan yesterday was accompanied by Pickles, a 15-year sheriff's department veteran who has trained the canine for the past year, when the dog growled at a reporter and two photographers.
"He's not friendly at all," said Pickles.
Details for this story were reported by The Eagle-Tribune of North Andover, Mass.