A 3-year-old boy was attacked and killed, and a mother badly injured, by two dogs in their New Jersey neighborhood, law enforcement officials said Tuesday.
The attack in Carteret occurred in the backyard of a home on Laurel Street around 4:30 p.m., according to Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone and town police chief Dennis McFadden. First responders quickly arrived at the scene and airlifted the young boy and his mother to the hospital.
The child died at the hospital. The mother, who was said to have suffered severe injuries, remained hospitalized as of Wednesday in critical condition, officials said. Their names have not yet been released.
Tanveer Ahmed, the husband and father of the victims, returned to the home during the day.
Neighbors described how the horrific scene played out, as the child was playing in the yard when two pit bulls attacked. The canines live on the opposite side of the victims' backyard, and came charging through a hole in a fence before going after the boy and his mother. Other holes covered by cinderblocks could be seen along the fence.
One man said he could hear the mother's cries for help, but no one was there. Another said that the woman's 10-year-old son had to call the police, and hope they could save her.
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Those who know the family said they had recently moved to Carteret from Brooklyn. One of the father's coworkers from Coney Island Auto Parts said Ahmed was happy to move out of a crowded apartment for the suburbs. Fellow employees and customers of the shop were already donating to the family.
No one answered the door of the home where the dogs were said to live. Those who knew the owners said the dogs never seemed aggressive before, and didn't seem to cause too much commotion. However, one person said the mother had told the neighbors in the past that the dogs were an issue.
It was unclear if the owners were facing charges. Town officials said municipal records show the dogs were not registered with Cartaret, which is required by law. The local police chief later confirmed both dogs had been euthanized.
"As a small community, our Carteret family mourns the heart-wrenching loss of our young neighbor and we pray for this young mother and family in this time of unimaginable grief," Cartaret Mayor Daniel Reiman said Wednesday.
A joint investigation involving the Carteret Police Department and Middlesex County prosecutor's office remains underway. Anyone with information can contact those offices at 732-541-4181 and 732-745-3300, respectively.