Girl, 9, mauled to death by 3 dogs in Detroit; owner arrested

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

A 9-year-old girl riding her bike in an alley was mauled to death by three dogs Monday in Detroit as neighbors tried to stop the attack, including throwing bricks and firing shots, police said.

Detroit police investigators are at the scene where dogs mauled a girl Monday in Detroit.

The girl, believed to have lived on the next block, was attacked in an alley near Central and Smart on the west side at about 4 p.m. Monday, said Sgt. Nicole Kirkwood, a spokeswoman for the Detroit Police Department.

The Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office identified the victim as Emma Hernandez. She died of multiple injuries, and her death was an accident.

Within hours of the attack, the owner of the dogs, a 33-year-old man, was arrested Monday night and two dogs were seized after officers obtained a court order, Officer Dan Donakowski said. Another dog involved in the attack had been shot earlier, police said.

The name and address of the owner of the dogs were not released.

Neighbors tried to stop the animals during the mauling, one throwing a brick.

"They were not stopping," until then, said Edward Cruz, a neighbor who hurled the brick after hearing screams in the alley. He rushed out to find the three large dogs attacking the girl.

"I had to step in."

Cruz said the dogs, which police described as pit bulls or pit-bull mixes, ran off.

According to a preliminary investigation, the girl, who has not been identified, and her brother had been riding bikes in the alley, Donakowski said.

She was taken to Children's Hospital of Michigan, where she was pronounced dead, said Deputy Fire Commissioner David Fornell.

Detroit police investigators are at the scene where dogs mauled a girl Monday in Detroit.
Deborah Golden recounts the dog attack.

Deborah Golden, who lives down the street and heard the cries for help, saw that the girl was unresponsive and lying in a pool of blood with severe injuries to her throat, she said.

With a crowd gathered around the girl, including members of her family, Golden started CPR and instructed one of the girl's relatives to stanch the blood with a T-shirt until emergency personnel arrived.

"You’re not going to wait even a second," she said.

In a statement late Monday, the Detroit Health Department, which oversees the city's animal control unit, said two of the dogs were retrieved by their owner after the attack.

Detroit Fire EMS said one of the three dogs appeared to have been shot by a neighbor. That dog died, Donakowski said.

Golden said she noticed at least one of the dogs in the attack roaming free days earlier, and other neighbors had complained about the animals loose nearby.

"The kids have a right to play," she said as other neighbors watched police investigating across the street. "You’ve got to keep these damn dogs in the house."

As of Tuesday morning, a GoFundMe page created to fund Emma Hernandez's funeral had raised $2,300 of the $25,000 sought.

Edward Cruz of Detroit talks to a Detroit police officer moments after a 9-year-old girl was attacked by dogs.