DETROIT – As the community tries to cope with the loss of 9-year-old Emma Hernandez, a viewing and funeral are planned.
Emma was mauled to death by three pit bull dogs Monday night in Southwest Detroit. She was riding her bicycle in the area of Central Avenue and Smart Street when the three pit bulls escaped from a neighbor's yard, police said.
"She was a very happy child and she is going to be very, very missed," said Claudia Stapleton, Emma's aunt. "This was her neighborhood. She should be able to play and do what every kid does -- walk around, ride their bikes. They shouldn't be afraid to be in their own neighborhood."
Pierre Cleveland, 33, is the dogs' owner. He was taken into police custody Monday night. He kept his head down during his Thursday afternoon arraignment. He was formally charged with second-degree murder for Monday dog attack that killed Emma.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy released this statement:
"It is horrible to imagine what Emma went through as she was being mauled to death by vicious dogs allegedly owned by the defendant. It is high time that the City of Detroit shines a light on the owners of these dangerous animals that sometimes roam and wreak serious havoc -- none worse than what happened here."
Animal Control received previous complaint about dogs
Animal Control officials said they intend to euthanize the dogs. One of the dogs was shot on scene by a neighbor and died of its injuries. The two others were examined by Animal Control and are scheduled to be put down Friday or Saturday.
Overall, Animal Control said they collected 4,500 animals last year including dogs, cats, reptiles, bats. They did get a complaint about the house with the dogs that attacked Emma in March of last year. The department says officers went to the home and were not able to get in contact with the owner after calls and a visit. They did not receive any complaints since then from neighbors until the incident on Monday, they said.
Immediate family members are invited to a viewing between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Friday at Professional Mortuary Services at 3833 Livernois in Detroit. The public viewing will be held from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at the same place.
Funeral is Saturday
Th funeral service will be held at noon Saturday at St. Cunegunda Church -- 5900 St. Lawrence Street, Detroit, MI.
Donations for family
A GoFundMe account has been set up for the family. Detroit businessman Bill Pullte said he would pay for the funeral himself.
This is message from the family in the GoFundMe page:
Our beloved Emma Valentina Hernandez recently passed on August 19, 2019. Emma was a wonderful child who touched the lives of those around her. She leaves behind a family that loves her immensely.
Emma dedicated her life to school work, playing and enjoying life with her family. Quick to get a head start on school work. She was such a smart and silly girl. Loved to be outdoors and play with her cousins. A beautiful soul inside and out.
We are all devastated by Emma's loss and were not prepared for the high cost of a funeral service. We want to give Emma the memorial she deserves, to honor her memory and say our last goodbyes.
I am currently asking for donations to help cover the cost of Emma's funeral.
Here is a link to the fundraiser for Emma. Please consider donating, as any amount will truly help our family during this difficult time.
Thank you so much and have a wonderful day.
The Hernandez Family.
Nuestra querida Emma Valentina Hernández falleció recientemente el 19 de agosto de 2019. Emma fue una niña maravillosa que tocó la vida de quienes la rodeaban. Ella deja atrás una familia que la ama inmensamente.
Emma dedicó su vida al trabajo escolar, jugando y disfrutando la vida con su familia. Ella era una chica tan inteligente y feliz. Le encantaba estar al aire libre y jugar con sus primos. Un alma hermosa por dentro y por fuera.
Todos estamos devastados por la pérdida de Emma y no estábamos preparados para el alto costo de un funeral. Queremos darle a Emma el monumento que merece, para honrar su memoria y decirle nuestras últimas despedidas.
Actualmente estoy solicitando donaciones para ayudar a cubrir el costo del funeral de Emma.
Aquí hay un enlace a la recaudación de fondos para Emma. Considere donar, ya que cualquier cantidad realmente ayudará a nuestra familia durante este momento difícil.
Muchas gracias y que tenga un día maravilloso.
La familia hernandez