By Dillon Thomas

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – Longtime residents of Fort Collins are being credited for helping save the life of one of Fort Collins’ finest, a K9 police dog named Inox. Inox’s life was saved by a protective vest which Gary and Kathy Geroy donated years ago.

(credit: CBS)

The vest helped Inox survive multiple stabbing attempts by a dangerous suspect, according to Fort Collins Police Services. Inox, a 7-year-old German Shephard, and his handler Officer Ryan Barash were dispatched to a report of an intoxicated and armed man in the popular bar district of Old Town Fort Collins on Monday, Nov. 29.

“(We) were dispatched to a suspect who had threatened a member of the public with a knife,” Barash said. “(The suspect) barricaded on the back staircase of the Armstrong Hotel.”

Fort Collins Police say they spent nearly three hours trying to negotiate with the suspect, later identified as Matthew Bishop. Barash said Bishop refused to drop two knives while declining to make his way down the staircase to surrender.

Officers Ryan Barash and Inox (credit: CBS)

“At one point he ended up coming down the stairs with both knives in his hand and took off running to the public,” Barash said.

Due to the proximity to local bars, which were packed with customers at the time, and the previous accusations that the suspect was threatening violence on others, Barash deployed Inox to help stop Bishop.

Inox chased Bishop around the side of the hotel and partially down the heavily-trafficked sidewalks of College Avenue before finally making contact.

Barash said Inox was able to bite Bishop. As Barash turned the corner, he noticed Bishop was allegedly attacking Inox.

“I noticed the suspect began stabbing him with his left hand with a blade,” Barash told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas. “This is my best friend. He has saved my life multiple times. So, seeing a family member getting stabbed was very traumatic.”

Barash and several other officers ran toward Inox and Bishop and were able to safely place the suspect in handcuffs. Barash pulled Inox away and was relieved to see Inox was not injured — at all.

(credit: CBS)

Police noted that the protective vest Inox was wearing had a few nicks in the material where Bishop allegedly stabbed Inox. However, because the vest was both bulletproof and stab resistant, Inox was able to continue his efforts to stop the suspect from running while taking the blows.

Barash credited the Geroy family for saving Inox’s life.

The Geroy’s told CBS4 they were watching the news five years ago when they saw a story about people who donated protective vests to local police departments in other states. They discussed wanting to do the same for their local police department and made a phone call. Shortly afterward, Fort Collins Police accepted a financial donation from the couple which directly went to purchasing Inox’s protective vest.

Barash said he called the Geroy’s the day after the incident to thank them for helping his K9 partner.

(credit: CBS)

“It was very satisfying to know we made a small contribution,” Gary Geroy said. “I was very excited that Inox was okay.”

“I wanted to cry,” Kathy Geroy said.

Without the vest Barash believes his longtime partner may have lost his life that night, all in an effort to protect complete strangers.

“My guess would be that Inox would not be here today,” Barash said.

Barash said his family was thrilled to be able to bring Inox home safe after that shift. He, and Fort Collins Police Services, gifted the Geroy’s with a commemorative K9 flag baring Inox’s name as well as a challenge coin.

Inox was able to thank the couple himself by spending time with the couple and got some back scratches.

“I think he was a very brave dog,” Kathy said. “He is so sweet when he is not on duty.”

Many local residents and businesses heard of Inox’s heroic actions, and the story behind the vest, and decided to help protect future K9’s in Fort Collins. Many made financial donations to help secure future “K9 Storm” protective vests.

The vests are pricey, costing more than $2,500 each. The Geroy’s already made a verbal commitment to purchase the next protective vest for Fort Collins’ newest K9 officer, expected to join the department in early 2022.

“It was so worth the investment,” Kathy said.

“Every penny and more (was worth it.) Every penny and more,” Gary said.

Dillon Thomas