Deputy Zachary Oliver remembers K-9 Graffit as part of his family.

A Jefferson County deputy, whose K-9 was shot and killed in Golden, remembered the dog, Graffit, on Thursday as a fellow officer and a loving member of his family.

Deputy Zachary Oliver said at a news conference that Graffit had died in the line of duty, protecting the public and fellow officers. The dog was the first Jefferson County Sheriff’s K-9 killed in the line of duty.

“He sacrificed himself so me and my partners didn’t die,” Oliver said. “He saved lives.”

The suspect in the shooting, 29-year-old Eduardo Armando Romero, is being held at the Jefferson County Jail.

Early Monday morning, Romero allegedly pointed a handgun at officers and ran into a wooded area along the Colorado School of Mines campus, which was put on lockdown.

Oliver and Graffit were among the responding deputies and police. Graffit, a 10-year-old, 80-pound German shepherd, was following a command to apprehend the suspect when he was shot.

“Graffit was in his prime,” Oliver said. “He wanted nothing more to do than to go to work.”

At the end of a shift, Graffit would go home with Oliver, where his wife, Alicia, and their two daughters, ages 4 and 11, embraced the energetic dog as a family member.

“With the kids, he was truly part of the family,” Oliver said.

The 4-year-old would call Oliver at work and ask, “‘Daddy, how is Graffit today?’ They knew he was important.”

Graffit, eager to please and fit, had a slender, athletic build and was known for his huge paws.

Oliver said he’s had overwhelming support from the sheriff’s office, local police, and officers around the country, as well as many members of the Jefferson County community.

“He died with a purpose, ” Oliver said. “He is a hero.”

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