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Detroit man pulls young brothers away from pit bulls

Nicquel Terry, and Leonard N. Fleming
The Detroit News

Detroit — Elgin Harris didn’t think twice when he spotted two young brothers, ages 10 and 12, being mauled by pit bulls early Friday morning.

Harris was walking to a friend’s house after his shift at MotorCity Casino when a screaming girl pointed out the attack. Harris, 27, pulled his shirt off and jumped a fence to fight off the dogs.

“I’m beating one dog in the head, stomping him as best I can,” Harris told The Detroit News.

That pit bull released one boy’s arm but the other dog continued mauling the boy’s left thigh, he said. The pit bull started shaking the young boy.

Harris said he knew he couldn’t fight the dogs alone. He yelled for help and another unknown Samaritan jumped the fence to assist.

“That’s when we started punching the dog grabbing anything we could see ... bottles, something sharp, to get the dog off of him,” Harris said.

The young boy was bleeding, screaming “I don’t wanna die,” Harris said.

Harris said he tried to calm him: “Don’t worry, don’t worry, we’re here.”

Harris said he helped pass one boy over the fence once an ambulance arrived. But the other boy was still being attacked, he said. Moments later, police arrived and fatally shot the two pit bulls.

Omar Wyatt told The News he owns the dogs which were protecting his welding business from break-ins.

“My heart goes out to the children, however from my perspective it’s very unfortunate what happened to my dogs,” he said. “They were doing nothing more than protecting property that was being trespassed on.”

Wyatt’s business typically has a “Beware” sign alerting passerby about the 2-year-old dogs but “at times we’ve come over to the yard and found the signs ripped off the front and thrown over the fence,” he said.

The dogs were in a secure gated area designed to prevent others from trespassing, Wyatt added. “Our property was definitely sealed up and our animals were on the other side trying to protect our property.”

Police say the brothers were dropped off at school by their mother around 8 a.m. but ended up going to a store nearby before school started near the corner of Puritan and Hubbell. That’s when the pair was chased by one pit bull but not harmed, authorities said.

To escape the first dog, the two climbed a fence where the two pit bulls were and were attacked. Both boys sustained bite marks to their arms, legs and torso, said Detroit Police Officer Jennifer Moreno.

“One officer ended up going in the yard and fired shots and the dogs were both killed. They got the kids out of the yard and to the hospital,” Moreno said.

The 10-year-old boy, Moreno said, was listed in serious condition and the 12-year-old in stable condition.

“Any child that’s attacked by a dog and survives is, I would say, definitely lucky,” Moreno said.

Harris said that his leg may have been injured and was heading to the hospital. He said he had no experience with pit bulls but knew he couldn’t just walk away.

“The kid had a future; he was still young,” said Harris, a casino maintenance worker. “I feel great that I saved two lives. It feels good to be a hero.”

Mark Hicks contributed.