While she was playing with two of her friends in the backyard of her father’s home after she went to visit him on Sunday, 9-year-old Amiyah Dunston, tragically lost her life when a pit bull attacked her and refused to let go.
The New York Post reports that Amiyah’s mother’s fiancée, Brian Willis, said the tragedy happened on New York’s Long Island around 10:30 a.m. The man who helped raise the young girl, along with her mother, Mayra Castillo, added the young girl was visiting her biological father, Tramel Dunston.
“Amiyah Kayla was a phenomenal little girl who has touched many lives with her presence, smiles and laughs,” Willis continued. “We thank you for all your support and prayers. Just, please, let us mourn our terrible, tragic loss,” he added to reporters.
Police are reportedly still undecided as to whether to bring criminal charges against the dog’s owner, 29-year-old Carlyle Arnold. His pit bull, named Kane, allegedly charged Amiyah and refused to let go of his victim, despite attempts from several neighbors to separate them.
Amiyah was reportedly rushed to Franklin Hospital with bites all over her body, but succumbed to her injuries and died a few hours later.
The Root reports that the dog was shot and killed by a police officer when it turned on them as they arrived on the scene. Arnold was arrested at the scene on an unrelated charge.
The Post reports that Arnold had two open cases in Nassau County, one for child endangerment and the other, criminal possession of stolen property. His bail was set at $10,000 on Monday morning during an arraignment in which he was charged with criminal contempt for allegedly violating a protection order involving his girlfriend.
“He was a good dog, that’s what I don’t understand,” said Arnold’s uncle, Anthony Jett. “He was a beast because he was a pit, but he was very gentle.”
“Dogs can flip sometimes. They don’t respect kids like they respect adults,” said Jet still puzzled about what made the dog attack.
“I mean, if somebody came too close to the house, he would react,” Jet continued. “He would start barking. But that was the extent of it. I never thought he would maul anybody.”
However, one neighbor told the Post of the attack by Kane, “He was holding her somewhere on the side. I don’t know if it was the ears or the neck and he was throwing her around like a rag doll.”
“The two [other] little girls ran down the street, screaming, ‘Help! Help! Help!’ I tried to take my broom and push the dog off through the fence,” the neighbor continued. “And the doctor up the block was trying to help, too. He threw a garbage can at the dog, but he wouldn’t let her go.”
While the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office and police are investigating the incident further, to determine if charges will be brought against Arnold regarding the attack, police detective Michael Bitsko said on Sunday, “It was a violent attack.” He added during the afternoon press conference, “We don’t know why the pit bull attacked her.”
Dunston had reportedly been crashing at the Elmont home at 236 Holland Avenue, when his daughter was attacked by the pit bull. He was allegedly a friend of Arnold, according to Willis.
Refusing to discuss the matter any further when pressed about why he thought the attack took place and what may have led up to it, Willis said, “We’re just trying to deal with the situation… all that other stuff is secondary.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help with funeral expenses and grief counseling for the family. The goal was set at $15,000, but as of Wednesday evening, it had garnered over $26,000 from 514 people in 2 days.
“She was a beautiful, smart and loving girl, who touched the lives of all who knew her,” states a post on the family’s funding page. “She played the violin in school. I loved her,” Amiyah’s grandmother, Ana Dailey, told the Post.
“She was so smart and respectful,” said Amiyah’s aunt, Asia Thomas, who called the girl “Mimi” and “Curly Sue.”
“She really was the perfect little girl,” Thomas continued, adding that she had heard the children were playing with the dog’s puppies, but she couldn’t confirm that because she wasn’t there.
“The dog was probably protecting the babies,” Thomas said. “This is just tragic.”
(via The Root)