DETROIT (WWJ) - The father of a 9-year-old girl who was fatally mauled by three dogs while she was playing on Detroit's west side says his neighbor had been warned about the animals prior to the attack.
Emma Hernandez was riding her bike in an alley in the area of Central Avenue and Smart Street, near Warren and Lonyo, Monday afternoon when three dogs, described as pit bulls or pit-bull mixes, got out of a neighbor's yard and attacked her.
A bystander shot one of the dogs in an attempt to rescue the girl, while another threw bricks at them. Police say the dog that was shot is dead, while the other two dogs were taken in by the homeowner.
Emma was taken to Children's Hospital of Michigan, where she was pronounced dead. Her father, Armando Hernandez, says he did everything he could to save her.
"I tried my best. I tried CPR, I tried helping her. I couldn't do it. I tried, I did everything I could in my power to just -- she was gone. She was gone when I reached her," Hernandez told WWJ's Charlie Langton.
The dogs came from the yard of Hernandez's back neighbor, who he says had been warned recently that the fence separating the two homes was flimsy and that he needed to better restrain the animals.
"I knew the dogs were there. I knew the neighbor. 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," said Hernandez. "Last year, November 2017, the police came out and made a report about it but they didn't follow up on it. The dogs stayed there loose, wild, and the guy didn't feed them. The poor dogs, you know, I don't blame them."
The 33-year-old owner of the dogs was taken into police custody Monday night.
"Just, I'm speechless. There's no words. I feel so empty. I don't know what to do. I'm really heartbroken right now. I can't explain it," said Hernandez. "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."
A GoFundMe account the Hernandez family describes the 9-year-old as "a wonderful child who touched the lives of those around her."
"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."
The incident remains under investigation. Charges could be approved as soon as Tuesday.