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Shirt sales for slain Pittsburgh K-9 Rocco generate thousands of dollars

| Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, 11:45 p.m.
Pittsburgh Police K-9 officer Rocco

A T-shirt memorializing slain Pittsburgh police K-9 Rocco raised thousands of dollars this weekend, an organizer said on Monday.

The Black n Gold Girls, a company geared toward female Pittsburgh sports fans, has sold about $23,000 worth of the “Remembering Rocco” shirt, said Cassandra Buncie, co-founder of Black n Gold Girls.

“It grows every 10 minutes,” Buncie said of the orders for the black shirt with the name “Rocco” spelled out using a paw print. “The story has touched so many people in so many ways. It's been overwhelming.”

Rocco, an 8-year-old German shepherd, died on Thursday night in the Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Center in Ohio Township, two days after being stabbed in the line of duty.

John L. Rush, 21, of Stowe is accused of attacking Rocco with a pocket knife and stabbing his handler, Officer Philip Lerza, in the shoulder. Two other officers were wounded as they struggled with Rush.

Buncie said she has talked with the secretary in the Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1 office, the city police and the Greater Pittsburgh Police Federal Credit Union about the shirt sales. She hopes the proceeds will benefit local K-9 programs, though she is still working on the details. FOP President Mike LaPorte said he has not talked with Buncie.

“It's all about writing a big check and making sure the K-9 programs continue in the city of Pittsburgh,” Buncie said.

The credit union is also accepting donations through its Rocco Fund. LaPorte said more than $11,000 collected there will go to the city's K-9 unit.

“We deeply appreciate the support of the community,” he said.

Margaret Harding is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8519 or mharding@tribweb.com.

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