Owner arrested after 3 dogs maul 9-year-old girl to death in Detroit

The girl was attacked while playing in an alley near her home.

A 9-year-old girl was playing in an alley near her home in southwest Detroit on Monday afternoon when she was viciously attacked by three pit bulls.

The girl, Emma Valentina Hernandez, died in the attack, and the dogs' owner has been arrested, according to police.

Neighbor Deborah Golden happened upon a gruesome scene when she heard the girl screaming, ABC Detroit station WXYZ reported. She describing to the station how she saw the girl lying "flat on her back" and covered in bite marks, and that she performed CPR on the girl while the girl's father attempted to tend to her wounds.

Another neighbor, Edward Cruz, threw a brick at one of the dogs that was gripping the girl with its mouth, he told WXYA.

The dogs then ran, Cruz said. One of the dogs was shot by a friend of the owner, Detroit Police Capt. Russell Solano told WXYZ.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig confirmed on Tuesday that the dogs were pit bulls.

Cruz expressed surprise that the dogs attacked the girl, describing them as "really nice" and "gentle" dogs.

"I did not realize that they would be doing this," he said. "They're not vicious dogs....I don't know what came over them."

Craig described the girl's death as "just tragic" and offered condolences to her family.

A GoFundMe campaign created to cover the funeral costs described the girl, named Emma, as a "smart and silly girl" who "dedicated her life to school work, playing and enjoying life with her family."

"We want to give Emma the memorial she deserves, to honor her memory and say our last goodbyes," the campaign stated.

The man who owns the dogs was arrested on Tuesday, Craig said, adding that pet owners have "a responsibility when they have violent canines that those animals are to be secure at all times."

City prosecutors are currently reviewing charges for the owner, who was not identified, Craig said.

The dogs are now in the possession of the city's animal control, according to WXYZ.