On Monday afternoon, August 19, a 9-year-old girl was riding her bike close to her home in Detroit, Michigan when a trio of pit bulls attacked her. She was immediately taken to the Children’s Hospital of Michigan but was pronounced dead due to her injuries.
Emma Valentina Hernandez was enjoying an afternoon bike ride with her younger brother near their home in west Detroit, Michigan. Suddenly, three pit bulls (pit bull mixes) escaped their owner’s yard and attacked Emma.
The Detroit News reported that upon hearing the screams of a little girl, the neighbors rushed to her aid and tried to stop the dogs from biting Emma. One neighbor named Edward Cruz said, “They were not stopping.” He stepped in by throwing bricks at the dogs hoping they would run away.
Another neighbor was able to wound one of the dogs by shooting at it. After paramedics arrived and started performing CPR, other neighbors had jumped in to shoot at the dogs as well. Detroit Deputy Fire Commissioner Dave Fornell said, “We were performing EMS under gunfire.”
As soon as Emma’s father realized what had happened, he rushed out to try and save his daughter. “I tried my best. I tried CPR, I tried helping her. I couldn’t do it. I did everything I could in my power to just—she was gone. She was gone when I reached her,” he said.
Another neighbor, Deborah Golden tried to assist the father. “I seen the little girl flat on her back with the bite marks and part of her neck hanging off,” she said. “I started CPR and I had the dad grab the neck and hold it.”
According to local radio news station WWJ, the father said, “I’m speechless. There are no words. I feel so empty. I don’t know what to do. I’m really heartbroken right now. I can’t explain it.”
He continued, “Just over and over, I keep replaying it. I couldn’t sleep. I haven’t slept. Just, every time I close my eyes, man, I see my baby girl.”
Emma’s father had previously warned the dog’s owner that his fence was not strong enough to contain the pit bulls. The father even had an argument with the owner a week before the incident.
“I knew the dogs were there. I knew the neighbor,” the father mentioned. “We had an argument about it just last week and he just didn’t take care of his dogs properly. He could have prevented this.”
Back in November of 2017, the father had filed a complaint with local authorities but he mentioned that “they didn’t follow up on it.” In fact, “the dogs stayed there loose, wild, and the guy didn’t feed them. The poor dogs, you know, I don’t blame them.”
As of Monday afternoon, the dog’s owner had been taken into custody and police say the incident is still under investigation. On Tuesday, officials from Detroit Animal Care and Control reported that the dogs are going to be euthanized.