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Work of Harrisburg K-9 officer leads to conviction on gun charges for suspect

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HARRISBURG — The work of a Harrisburg Police K-9 could have been the determining factor in the conviction of a suspect on gun-related offenses at a two-day trial in Dauphin County Court.

Christopher L. Pierce was found guilty of Person Not to Possess a Firearm, Carrying a Firearm Without a License, and Possessing a Firearm With an Obliterated Serial Number on September 15, according to the Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office.

According to testimony at trial, on June 22, 2016, Susquehanna Township Police responded to the American’s Best Value Inn on N. Fourth St. at 4:25 a.m. for a suspicious persons call. When the arrived, police made contact with Pierce, who initially attempted to avoid them. He fled, and was caught a short distance away.

When police realized Pierce was not wanted and did not have anything illegal on his person, they decided to use the services of Harrisburg Police K-9 Riggs to search the area where Pierce fled. Riggs and his handler, Officer Kelly English, tracked Pierce’s movements to vegetation near the side of the hotel. Hidden deep inside an arborvitae tree was a loaded 9mm handgun with an obliterated serial number.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Stephen R. Zawisky credited K-9 officer Riggs for the conviction.

“Without the services of K-9 Riggs, we wouldn’t have located the gun,” he said. “Riggs certainly deserves some extra treats this week, he’s the reason we won the case.”

Pierce is scheduled for sentencing on October 18, 2017.  He was unable to possess a firearm due to two prior convictions – a 2011 robbery conviction and a 2014 felony drug conviction.