A mother-of-seven is left heartbroken after watching helplessly as her 4-year-old son, Xavier Strickland, was mauled to death by four pit bulls as they were on their way to Thurgood Marshall Elementary School to volunteer, according to Fox 2 Detroit. On Wednesday, Lucillie Strickland, 33, of Detroit, Michigan, was walking with her son on the sidewalk near the area of John C. Lodge Service Drive and Baylis when four pit bulls, who escaped from their yard by crawling through a gap in the fence, attacked them.
Without hesitation, Lucillie shielded her son – who was small for his age – with her body to prevent the dogs from attacking him, but as a result she was bitten on the head, legs, and back. With the strength of four pit bulls combined, it wasn’t long until they were able to snatch the boy from his mother.
“They pulled him [Xavier] from me and dragged him under the fence. They just ate him,” said Lucillie before breaking down.
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Lucillie said that initially “When I saw them, I started running but both of the big dogs grabbed each one of my legs. I put him [Xavier] in front of me…And when I kicked them off, when I got up, I grabbed him, I had him by the arms and one of the pit bulls grabbed my ankle again. And I’m going in again, kicking and the other big pit got in front of me, and pulled him away from me.”
“Why do you [dogs] want a baby? Why do you want to attack anybody?”
After the pit bulls dragged the young child under the fence, they began to viciously attack him. Neighbors said they heard Lucillie screaming for help at approximately 12:30 p.m. and rushed to her aid. They tried fighting the dogs off of the boy using sticks and crow bars but it was to no avail. When Detroit police officials arrived at the scene, the dogs were still mauling the boy and they were forced to shoot three of the dogs to stop the attack. According to the Daily Mail, the fourth dog was later taken to the pound.
Xavier was rushed to Henry Ford Hospital where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy report later determined that he sustained “multiple puncture wounds to his body, with the coroner ruling out the possibility of the death being natural causes.” During a conference, Police Chief James Craig stated that “The mother tried to fight the dogs off. What’s telling in this scenario is the viciousness of these animals, the fact that they removed this child from the mother’s grasp.”
The police are not revealing the name of the owner of the pit bulls, but they say he is a 41-year-old man who was arrested Wednesday following the attack. He is currently in police custody, but no charges have been filed. Xavier’s uncle, Ramone Cage, spoke about the attack.
“He should serve jail time” as the pit bull owner was “warned about the dogs.” He also stated that “We can never get my nephew back. This is a mother whose child was torn like a rag doll.”
The boy’s family also added that this isn’t the first time one of the Strickland children was attacked by the pit bulls. Just a month ago, Xavier’s 9-year-old sister was bitten and had to be rushed to a local hospital but lucky for her, her injuries weren’t life-threatening. Lucillie says that after her daughter was attacked, she notified police. Police spokeswoman Sgt. Cassandra Lewis confirmed that a police report was made and that Detroit police officials are currently looking into it.
Xavier’s family remembers him as an energetic boy who loved to play with his toy trucks and Legos. A Go Fund Me page was also setup to help pay for his funeral cost and they have since raised almost $12,000. They contrive to make arrangements for his funeral next week.
[Image via Shutterstock]