DETROIT – A 9-year-old girl was mauled to death by dogs on Monday while playing in a Detroit neighborhood, police said.
The girl, who has been identified as Emma Hernandez, was in an alley when the three pit bulls attacked her, according to a Detroit Police spokeswoman.
Witnesses tried to save the girl and police said that someone shot one of the dogs. Police didn’t say who shot the dog or how many bullets were fired.
“I went and grabbed a brick and threw it right at the dog,” Edward Cruz told CNN affiliate WXYZ. “They all ran and I stood next to the girl to make sure she was OK and I yelled out for help.”
Deborah Golden lives in the neighborhood and told WXYZ that she heard screaming and saw Emma on her back with bite marks on her neck.
She and the girl’s father performed CPR.
“I started CPR and I had the dad grab the neck and hold it,” Golden said.
Emma was rushed to the hospital, but died from her injuries.
‘We’re having such a hard time’
“It’s hard for me not to cry,” Cpt. Russell Solano, of the Detroit Police Department told CNN affiliate WDIV. “It’s tough, real tough. We’re talking about a 9-year-old girl who was just out there playing, and now she’s not here.”
“This is her neighborhood. She should be able to be free and do what every kid does — walk around, ride their bikes — they shouldn’t be afraid to be in their own neighborhood,” Emma’s aunt Claudia Stapleton told WDIV. “This is just very devastating. Very, very hurtful for this family.
Emma’s family described her as “a wonderful child who touched the lives of those around her” on a GoFundMe page to raise money for her funeral costs.
“Emma dedicated her life to school work, playing and enjoying life with her family. Quick to get a head start on school work. She was such a smart and silly girl. Loved to be outdoors and play with her cousins. A beautiful soul inside and out,” they wrote.
“We’re having such a hard time,” Stapleton told WDIV. “We’re relying on prayer and family support to get us through right now.”
The owner of the three dogs was taken into custody, but police did not identify the 33-year-old man or say if he has been charged. Wayne County prosecutors told CNN that they have not yet received a warrant from police.
The three dogs were taken to Detroit Animal Care and Control and are being evaluated.
“Due to the severity of this case, it is very likely that the dogs will be euthanized,” the department said in a statement.