Name released of infant killed by family pit bull

SAN DIEGO – Authorities released the name today of an infant killed by a pit bull last week at his East County home.

The terrier attacked 8-month-old Tyzhel Latella McWilliams at an apartment in the 3500 block of West Street in Lemon Grove shortly before 5 p.m. Thursday, sheriff’s Lt. Larry Nesbit said.

Deputies and paramedics arrived to find a woman holding the gravely injured baby, who was pronounced dead about an hour later at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego.

Animal control officers took custody of three male pit bulls that lived at the residence, the lieutenant said. Detectives have determined that only one of the animals attacked the boy, according to Nesbit. That dog was euthanized this morning.

Since the other two terriers were not involved in the fatality and have no known history of vicious behavior, they were released back to their owner, said Anne Steinberger, communications manager for the city of Chula Vista, which provides animal-control services to Lemon Grove.

There have been no arrests in connection with the child’s death, Nesbit said.

”This case will ultimately be submitted to the district attorney for review,” he said.

It could take sheriff’s detectives weeks or even months to complete their investigation, according to Nesbit.

Pit Bulls Impounded Following Fatal Attack on Baby

LEMON GROVE – Detectives sought today to determine what led to the apparent dog-bite death of an 8-month-old boy at his family’s East County apartment, where three pit bulls were later impounded.

The fatal attack by at least one of the terriers in the 3500 block of West Street in Lemon Grove was reported shortly before 5 p.m. Thursday, sheriff’s Lt. Larry Nesbit said.

Deputies and paramedics arrived to find a woman holding the seriously injured infant. The boy was taken to Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, where he was pronounced dead about an hour later.

”Because the incident involved the sudden or unexpected death of an infant, the sheriff’s homicide detail was requested and assumed the investigation,” Nesbit said.

Authorities declined to immediately release the victim’s name. An investigator with the county Medical Examiner’s Office, which generally identifies deceased people publicly following family notification, said the case had been ”sealed” from disclosure at the request of sheriff’s officials.

Investigators interviewed residents of the rental unit where the attack occurred, and animal-control officers took custody of the three male dogs, all of which lived there, the lieutenant said.

The canines were taken to a shelter in Chula Vista, according to Anne Steinberger, communications manager for that South Bay city, which provides animal-control services to Lemon Grove.

The dogs, which are between 3 and 5 years old, will undergo a standard 10-day rabies quarantine at the Beyer Way pound, Steinberger said. How long they will be held thereafter and what ultimately becomes of them will depend on the findings of sheriff’s detectives.

If the animals are classified as ”dangerous dogs” due to the fatality, they will be euthanized, Steinberger said.

How many of the three canines were involved in inflicting the child’s injuries remained unclear this afternoon.

”We don’t know if it was one or all of them,” Steinberger said.

Shelter officials also had yet to determine if the dogs were neutered or properly licensed. The Chula Vista Animal Care Facility had received no prior reports of viciousness or aggressiveness on the part of the three pit bulls, Steinberger said.

It was also unclear if criminal charges would result.

Steve Walker, a spokesman for the District Attorney’s Office, said the child’s death ”remains under investigation by (the sheriff’s department), with no timeline for them to turn the case over to us.”

The probe could take weeks or even months to complete, depending on whether extensive laboratory work turns out to be necessary, Nesbit said.

The sheriff’s lieutenant said officials with his agency planned to meet with legal counsel early next week to determine if and when they can release the victim’s name, since there are statutory restrictions on disclosure of the identities of minors involved in potential criminal cases.

Over the past year, several other pit-bull attacks have been reported in the San Diego area, including one that involved the severe mauling and eventual death of a retirement-age woman.

Last June, 75-year-old Emako Mendoza of Paradise Hills was attacked by a pair of the barrel-chested shorthaired terriers in her fenced yard when she went outside to get her morning newspaper. The dogs, which lived next door, inflicted such severe injuries that doctors had to amputate part of her left arm and, ultimately, both her legs.

Mendoza died of complications from the attack on Christmas Eve.

The owners of the canines, Alba Cornelio, 40, and her 20-year-old daughter, Carla, have been charged with involuntary manslaughter, along with a felony count of owning a vicious animal causing death and six misdemeanor code violations, including failing to protect the public from a dog and owning a dangerous dog.

The Cornelios, who are scheduled to go on trial next month, each face up to four years and eight months in prison if convicted, according to prosecutors.

Last November, two brothers in their early 20s were jogging in Valley Center when a pack of dogs attacked them. Four involved pit-bull puppies were euthanized over the incident at the request of their owner.

Last month, a pit bull went after a woman while she was visiting a friend’s home in the 2300 block of Highview Lane in Spring Valley, sheriff’s Lt. Paul Robbins said. She was treated at a hospital for non-life-threatening wounds to her arms and legs. Animal-control personnel impounded the dog, according to Robbins.

Dan DeSousa, a public information officer for the county Animal Services Department, said his agency responds to somewhat more dog-bite reports involving pit bulls than other breeds, but added that those higher numbers could stem from the wide popularity of the energetic, large-headed terriers.

”We are of the opinion that it’s not the breed (to blame for an attack), it’s the owner of that particular dog,” DeSousa said.

Regardless, any attempt to regulate ownership or sale of pit bulls could not occur in California, since the state has prohibited ”breed specific” legislation regarding dogs, the spokesman said.

25 Responses to "Name released of infant killed by family pit bull"

  1. Flbk   June 15, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    It’s not the dog its the people that raise them..

  2. JasonF   June 15, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    "We are of the opinion that it’s not the breed (to blame for an attack), it’s the owner of that particular dog," DeSousa said.

    Then "We" are wrong! Pit bulls are bred to fight: they attack without warning (i.e., they don’t waste time growling or raising their hackles in an attempt to scare off the other dog); they rip, tear, shake and hang on until their victim stops moving; and when in "attack mode," they are almost oblivious to pain. These characteristics are genetic — as much a part of the dog’s makeup as the color of its fur or the shape of its body. Although training and how they are raised can impact their behavior, those genetic traits are still there and when a pit bull attacks, those traits surface and it doesn’t make any difference if the victim is another pit bull or an 8-month-old child — the intention of the pit bull is to kill! Accordingly, it doesn’t matter if pit bulls are more vicious than other dogs, what matters is the damage they do when they attack. When an ordinary dog attacks, most of the time, the victim requires nothing more than minor first aid, but when a pit bull attacks, someone usually ends up badly injured or dead!

  3. flowergarden92028   June 15, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    A few weeks ago, I saw a man walking his pit bull, on a leash. The man was carrying a baseball bat in his other hand. Why?

  4. Sad   June 15, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    It’s really sad that the news rarely ever says anything about dog attacks that aren’t pits, but when a pit does anything wrong the news is all over it. The news doesn’t help with this breeds reputation at all.

  5. Preston   June 16, 2012 at 7:32 am

    I’ve owned a dog my entire life except for a few years when I was in College. Growing up it was a Shepard, Retriever and Lab and now a Yorkie so I truly understand the phrase "A mans best friend". Obviously I have a love for dogs but I strongly believe Counties need to ban Pit Bulls as they have proven to be killers. I know other breeds have killed but not with the same consistency as the Pit. With so many wonderful breeds why continue to promote one that was breed to kill and has repeatedly killed, even its owners. Every time I see a Gang-Banger marching down the street with a Pit on a giant chain, it gives me the creeps so do what is right and demand your county ban the Pit Bull. Give a Yorkie a try, it will bring joy to your life.

  6. Malia Johnson   June 16, 2012 at 8:30 am

    Finally! Some one is pointing out the obvious fact that the owners are to blame! A dogs behavior is the reflection of how much time and energy an OWNER put into the animal.
    Owning any dog is a huge responsibility. People need to think about what owning a dog REALLY means before they acquire one. ESPECIALLY, if the dog is of strong mind, body, soul.
    There is no excuse for this. However, how many little dog attacks go unreported in California, the US?

  7. Lee Chew   June 16, 2012 at 8:41 am

    Give it a few weeks or so and we will hear of another attack by pit bull dogs.

  8. C. Leon   June 16, 2012 at 9:34 am

    When will people learn?

  9. Concerned   June 17, 2012 at 7:13 am

    How many deaths and vicious maulings does it take to get the legislature to realize that a certain breed of dog has a tendency to be vicious? We need to change the "breed specifc" law and have some kind of control over these dogs. If you don’t believe me, then ask the mother of the 8 month old who was just ripped to shreads. Graphic yes, but what does it take to make a change? It takes a public outcry that cares enough about these horrendous events to take some action. Your child or grandchild could be next!!!

  10. steve   June 17, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    wow how terrible. these dogs need to be outlawed

  11. Logic   June 18, 2012 at 4:03 am

    "It’s not the dog its the people that raise them.." Well, if that’s the case, then it would seem that a whole lot of people don’t know how to raise pit bulls because they just keep killing and mauling people and other animals, so we should ban people from owning them. Problem solved.

  12. Owner of Loving Pitbull   June 18, 2012 at 8:12 am

    Oh my god people!! Pitbulls are NOT bred to fight…they are TRAINED to fight. Pitbulls were actually raised as nanny dogs in the past, they are extremely good family pets. Do some research, they are not bred to fight! Is everyone so close-minded that they don’t realize this is all the media? What about Dobermans? German shepards? Rottweilers? I recall all those breeds being attacked by the media too, just as the pitbull is now. I have read many stories about Labradors attacking children as well, how come those never come out in the news? Just research it, there are many out there. Stop hating on pitbulls, I know many families, as well as mine, that own pitbulls and they say they will never have another breed.

  13. Mike in Murrieta   June 18, 2012 at 8:35 am

    Jason F pretty much hit the nail on the head. I’m so sick and tired of hearing people defend these attacks as "It’s not the dogs fault"? Anyone with any common sense knows that this breed is genetically disposed to act this way. Maybe it’s not the dogs fault. Given the fact that this is normal for them. Again, it boils down to the owners. There are a lot of dog breeds out there. Plenty to choose from. Certain kinds of people decide to own Pitbulls for one reason. Because of the breeds image and the fear it installs in other people. Ever notice what kind of dog your white-trash tweaker neighbor owns? Ever notice what kind of dog the gang-banger punk on your street owns? And, when someone wants a property or business protected by a fierce dog what kind of breed do they usually gravitate towards? Think about it people!! When you say "it’s not the dog, it’s the owner". There’s a lot of truth in that! It’s the owners fault for choosing a pitbull in the first place!! Knowing full well, the chances that their dog could injure or even kill someone!

  14. Owner of Loving Pitbull   June 18, 2012 at 9:36 am

    Mike, are you kidding me??? You are calling me and my family white trash? Really? Wow, are you seriously judging families who own pitbull. I live in a very nice neighborhood and I know many families that own pitbulls. Do not ever judge a family because of what kind of dog they own! You know NOTHING about the pitbull breed. They are recently being trained to fight. My pitbull is not a big, muscular dog..he weighs about 45 pounds and looks very similiar to a lab. He is not bred to fight. Can you please do some research about the pitbull breed before speaking about it. I bet you did not know that they were originally bred to be nanny dogs, did you? NANNY DOGS! To watch over children. I can’t stand people that sit there and judge when they have probably never even been around a pitbull. It’s people like you that make this breed look terrible. If you hear about a lab attacking a children, you will shrug it off as it was an accident. But ohhh nooo, you hear a pitbull, we better freak out! OH my goodness..rediculous!

  15. Ray (the real one)   June 18, 2012 at 11:31 am

    Why is this story in the FBVN? Does the victim or the owner of the digs have ties to Fallbrook?

    No ties to Fallbrook; just a lot of pit bulls here. VNews does at times run items that are in our “region” but not in the FB area if the topic is one our readers seem to find interesting. Animal-related stories get a large number of readers on this website, hence the reason this one is posted. (We can see the number of individual readers that look at each story… so we know what topics appear to be of higher interest than others).
    –D. Ramsey

  16. Baddog   June 18, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Another day and another pit bull attack. The insanity.

  17. Mike in Murrieta   June 18, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Owner of Loving Pitbull: If you answer yes to any of these question, then yes, I’m sorry to say, you probably are white trash.

    1. Is your Pitbull named "Harley" – (male)
    2. Is your Pitbull named "Zena" (female)
    3. Do you conduct bar-b -que’s on your front lawn with pitbull chained to tree?
    4. When you shop at the Super Wal-Mart, do you take your Pit-Bull with you?
    5. And, Do you have your Pitbull’s name tattoo’d on your body? (Extra points if tattoo includes head-shot of pitbull)

  18. Owner of Loving Pitbull   June 18, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    Mike in Murrieta:

    The answer is "no" to all of your questions. You seem quite ignorant and I challenge you to ask any real dog expert/trainer about pitbulls. Anybody who really knows about the breed knows the truth. I’m convinced at this point that your "wide grasp of knowledge" on the subject is limited to what you’ve heard on the news about attacks. Though tragic, these dogs have been brought up the wrong way (or by white trash owners as you claim) and these incidents should in no way reflect upon the entire breed. Again, ask an expert.

  19. pet owner with a brain   June 19, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Man it gets harder and harder to read about people bashing pitbulls. It is terribly sad to hear stories where a child or person gets hurt by a dog, but it is really getting old to hear that the big, bad pitbull is the problem. Pitbulls are incredibly intelligent, wonderful dogs if not trained in inproper conditions. They are physically strong, mentally strong willed, and if trained well, will do whatever necessary to please its master. If the master of a dog is a complete jackass, then yes, the dog might act out of line. This is, however, no reason to completely disregard an entire breed. Its just funny how such simple issues as dogs or very complex issues as politics can be completely manipulated by the media…and I myself, am very sick and tired of it.

  20. @Malia Johnson   June 20, 2012 at 8:27 am

    “However, how many little dog attacks go unreported in California, the US?”

    Really? Because that would just be plain embarrassing to report that a Chihuahua nipped your ankle! The reason there are no reports is because how many little dogs have actually killed a person? None.

    No one wants to bash pitbulls, I know folks that have them and they are great but too many uneducated, want to own these poor animals without training them, and more importantly, loving them and showing them care. They raise them to be monsters, and because the genetics of the pitbull are what they are, they will attack.

  21. Lee Chew   June 22, 2012 at 6:53 am

    Just the facts, In the United States in 2011. Of the 31 total fatalities, pit bulls contributed to over 67 percent of the deaths despite accounting for only 5 percent of the total dog population in the U.S. Rottweilers contributed to 13 percent of fatalities, while the remaining attacks were attributed to a variety of breeds.

  22. hcnovakleen   July 28, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    I am a cat lover, never have i liked dogs. but after babysitting my sons pitbul for a year I have found them to be very loving, really smart, easy to train and loyal. If I ever own a dog it will be a pitbul no other. Originally if you do your research you will find that when they were breeding pitbulls to be fighters ( because they do train easily) they surgically removed the pain receptors in their brains. This is why they are non stoppable when fighting. But as any dog they fight back when attacked if not trained better. My sons pit backed down to my pregnant cat attacking him on several occasions for he was trained not to attack back. so it is the owners fault not the dog. people need to realize that a pit requires alot of love and attention and if they cant provide that then they should not own one.

  23. Vic   August 24, 2012 at 8:34 am

    There is no excuse not to keep your animal contained. No excuse!

  24. statistics   August 27, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Here is a link to the statistics

  25. statistics   August 27, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    oh, and by the way, the family was African American, not "white trash" or whatever you guys are arguing about


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