(INSIDE EDITION) - A little boy who was fatally mauled by pit bulls was dragged away from his injured mother by one dog into a Michigan yard, where two other pit bulls joined in on the attack.
Dolly Strickland and her four-year-old, Xavier Strickland, were walking near to a nearby elementary school when one animal suddenly charged them at John C. Lodge Service Drive and Baylis Street on Detroit’s West Side about 12:25 p.m. Wednesday, officials said.
Strickland tried to protect her youngest child, but another dog went after the pair, Detroit Police said.
“We were just walking and the dogs ran and chased us,” the heartbroken mother told INSIDE EDITION.
“I laid on top of him and they were just biting me and biting me.”
Strickland said she was bit on her ear, leg and back, and then the animals went after her son.
One dog grabbed ahold of little Xavier and pulled him back into a yard from which it escaped, where there two more dogs, police said.
“They drug him and they were eating him,” Strickland told IE.
Neighbors who heard the terrified mom’s screams rushed to help get the dogs off the child, but they could not be stopped, she said.
Police officers who quickly responded to the grisly scene were forced to fatally shoot three of the pit bulls to end the attack, officials said.
The fourth dog was quarantined, where it remained Friday, police said.
Little Xavier was rushed to a nearby hospital, but he could not be saved. The Medical Examiner ruled he died from multiple puncture wounds to his body.
A spokeswoman for the Detroit Police Department said the dogs appeared to have dug a hole beneath the fence that kept them in their owner’s yard.
“Those dogs were out all the time, all the time,” Strickland said, adding that the animals were known to be mean and once before went after another one of her children.
Little Xavier’s older sister was forced to run for her life when she was chased by the dogs, but fortunately was able to get away, she said.
Police said that Strickland also told them about the incident involving her daughter, but said the mother was unable to provide a date or location for the attack.
Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, executive director and health officer for the Detroit Health Department, which oversees the city’s animal control, reportedly said the department has no prior reports of the dogs biting or attacking people.
Animal control received two complaints in 2013 and 2014 about stray dogs in the area, but none were ever located, El-Sayed told the Detroit Free Press.
The owner of the dogs, a 41-year-old man, was taken into custody after Wednesday’s attack, but no charges have yet been filed.
A spokeswoman for the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office said the case is under investigation.
“My whole family would like for him to stay in jail, to burn in jail,” Strickland said.
“Losing a child… It’s torment. Nobody is sleeping, nobody is eating. My whole family is just in torment.”
All they were left with was memories of little Xavier, the baby of a very large and close family, who was always smiling and loved to dance.
“He was just a happy baby, never was sad, never was angry. Just an ordinary little boy,” Strickland said.
Xavier’s family created a GoFundMe account to offshoot burial and funeral expenses.
“This young man was my neighbor and his smile will always be with me and my wife,” one donor wrote.
Donations had nearly reached $10,000 by Friday. A candlelight vigil will be held for the boy at 6 p.m. Saturday.
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