Mother’s Day recalls two previous fatal pit bull attacks since 2021 & a shooting over a pit bull
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana––Whose pit bull killed 17-year Marion County Sheriff’s Office deputy Tamieka C. White, 46, at her Indianapolis home on the evening of May 9, 2023 as she struggled to keep the pit bull away from her already injured eight-year-old son Tristan?
Almost a week later, law enforcement has yet to say, but ANIMALS 24-7 has found circumstantial evidence in photographs gleaned from social media that all four pit bulls found at White’s home––both her own and three others––may have come from the same prolific Indianapolis backyard pit bull breeder, perhaps even from the same litter.
The breeder appears to have been a longtime pool room friend of White, who was known for her skill at billiards.
“Died protecting most important person in her life”
In the days following Tamieka White’s death, during the week preceding Mother’s Day 2023, much was made of her role as a mother, a role she shared with the two other women who were the most recent previous Indianapolis-area fatalities in pit bull-related cases.
“Described as tiny in stature with a big heart,” according to Indianapolis Star reporter Sarah Nelson, White in the words of her Sheriff’s Office commander, Brittany Seligman, “died protecting the most important person in her life.”
Tristan White “is recovering from non-life-threatening injuries,” Nelson wrote, after escaping the scene of the attack and running to neighbors to seek help.
“He was in shock”
“He was in shock. He kept repeating several things over and over concerning his mom,” one neighbor told media. “He wanted people to look at his injury. He kept saying that.”
“Indianapolis police said the attacking dog was fatally shot by a responding officer, who fired when the dog charged at them,” Nelson added.
“Police told 13News,” WTHR of Indianapolis reported, “that officers had to shoot the dog when it wouldn’t let them get close to White. Officers tried to save White but were unable to do so.
Animal Care Services officers arrived at the scene and removed three more dogs from the house.
“Police told 13News that White was dog-sitting for someone she knew, and confirmed the dog who attacked her and her son did not belong to her,” WTHR said.
So whose pit bull was the killer?
“A man came to the scene and told police the dogs belonged to his girlfriend and he wanted the dogs back, but police said the dogs would be with Animal Control.”
Added John Doran of WTHR in a later report, “Neighbors tell us the attack happened in the backyard, which is surrounded by a wooden fence.
“Neighbors 13News spoke with said the aggressive dogs weren’t familiar,” Doran mentioned.
“Some type of pit bull mix,” a neighbor told Doran. “They weren’t there before, so she was dog-sitting. I talked to her the day before. She confirmed that she was dog-sitting and that she was going to fix the fence.”
“Neighbors said the dogs had broken through the fence before,” Doran continued.
“They had been loose a couple times over the past weekend,” the neighbor affirmed.
Indianapolis Animal Care Services acknowledged to Doran that an animal control officer had responded three days prior to the fatal attack on White “to a report of two loose and aggressive dogs in that area. The officer found two dogs in front of [White’s] address, a broken fence, and a third dog in the backyard.”
A self-identified friend of White “approached the officer and the officer was able to make contact with the owner by phone. The officer educated both individuals about the City’s at-large ordinance, and proceeded to warn the owner that she would receive a citation if the dogs got loose again. The officer also informed both parties that the dogs would need to be on a leash or tethered until the fence was fixed,” Indianapolis Animal Care Services summarized.
Pit shot at scene to rescue victim
CBS-4 digital reporter and assignment editor Joe Schroeder offered a slightly different version of the fatal attack, but confirmed most of the details.
Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department major Mike Leepper said at the scene, Schroeder paraphrased, that responding officers “spoke with neighbors who said that a person had been attacked by an aggressive dog inside a nearby residence,” not in the backyard.
“Officers attempted to get inside the residence and eventually located a female lying on the ground injured inside an adjacent garage,” Schroeder continued.
“Officers attempted to get inside the garage but were cut off by an aggressive dog. Officers then had to ‘destroy’ the dog, Major Leepper said.”
Judicial Enforcement Division
Indianapolis Animal Care Services took custody of the remains of the dead pit bull, three surviving pit bulls, and a cat found at the White residence.
“White,” noted Sarah Nelson of the Indianapolis Star, “served as a deputy sheriff in the Judicial Enforcement Division, which oversees the transportation of inmates to-and-from courts, collecting delinquent taxes and serving legal process papers.”
In short, White was a bailiff, not routinely involved in dangerous dog cases and other situations often requiring armed response.
Loretta Moore & Kathleen Bertram
The most recent fatal dog attacks in the greater Indianapolis metropolitan area previous to the attack on White came on September 14, 2021, and October 19, 2021.
First 84-year-old Loretta Mae Moore, of Lebanon in Boone County, Indiana, about 30 miles from the Indianapolis city center, was reportedly partially dismembered and killed by five dogs including at least one pit bull and two huskies.
Four of the dogs were returned to her son, Jim Moore, while the pit bull was returned to the rescue from which Jim Moore had adopted him.
Then 69-year-old Kathleen Bertram, of Matthews, Indiana, 71 miles from the Indianapolis city center, fell from a chair while holding her three-year-old granddaughter and was fatally bitten on the throat by a household pit bull.
White was the first dog-related fatality within the Indianapolis city limits since mail carrier Angela Summers, 45, herself a pit bull rescuer and advocate, was fatally shot on April 27, 2020 by Tony Cushingberry-Mays, 21, who in July 2022 pleaded guilty to second degree murder.
Summers had complained about the behavior of two dogs, a Chihuahua and a pit bull, at the Cushingberry-Mays home.
Angela Summers’ death apparently did not expedite Indianapolis Animal Care Services’ response to complaints about pit bulls and other dangerous dogs.
Perhaps most notoriously, Bob Segall of 13News told viewers in August 2021 that two pit bulls, Sheba and Izzy, had at last been impounded and their owned fined, after they were “involved in at least four recent attacks that terrorized neighbors living near George Washington High School. Additional attacks dating back to 2019 had been reported to Animal Care Services,” Segall narrated, “but despite some of those incidents being caught on home security cameras, city officials did not remove the animals until a series of attacks earlier this year that killed at least three pets in three months.”
Mother convicted of negligence
A recent pit bull attack fatality in the greater Indianapolis area involving a mother who was convicted of negligence came on January 25, 2020, in Lafayette, 63 miles north of the Indianapolis city center.
Julian Connell, just 26 days old, was reportedly killed in the Connell family home “when a pit bull began fighting with a beagle-mix dog in the house,” recounted an Associated Press summary of police reports.
“The baby’s teenage brother separated the dogs, and police said that’s when the pit bull attacked the baby,” Associated Press explained.
“Connell told police she was trying to find a new home for the pit bull, which had been aggressive toward the family and the second dog, according to a probable cause affidavit,” Associated Press added.
The baby’s mother, Jennifer Connell, 38, pleaded guilty to a single count of parental neglect, and was on December 14, 2020 sentenced to serve a year in prison followed by four years on probation.
Amaya Hess & Boyd Fiscus
The Julian Connell death recalled the near-fatal May 2006 pit bull mauling of 18-month-old Amaya Hess, who was in her stroller in an Indianapolis city park when attacked by a pit bull named Ozzie, kept by a man named Mark Hamilton, then 44.
Ozzie the pit bull had already injured two adult women, in July and November 2005.
Hess lost her scalp, one ear, one eye, most of her nose, and spent the next several months in a medically induced coma while doctors tried to save her life and a semblance of her face. As of the most recent coverage of her case, in 2016, she had already endured 57 surgeries with many more scheduled.
The Hess attack came eleven months after the July 1, 2005 death of Boyd Fiscus, 83, of Camby, a separately incorporated town that is generally considered an Indianapolis neighborhood. Fiscus was killed in his own yard by four pit bulls belonging to a neighbor.
Indianapolis rejected “At Risk Dogs” bill
Despite the Hess mauling, the Fiscus death, many other pit bull incidents, and an Indianapolis Animal Services shelter perpetually filled with unadoptable pit bulls, the Indianapolis city/county council on May 12, 2009 voted to table an At Risk Dogs bill introduced by councilor Mike Speedy, who was later elected to state office and now appears to be out of politics.
The At Risk Dogs proposal would have required that pit bull terriers be sterilized, modeled on legislation in effect in San Francisco since January 2006, which had achieved a 23% reduction in shelter intakes of pit bulls and a 33% reduction in the number of pit bulls killed by animal control in only two years.
A pit bull named Felony
The Indianapolis metropolitan area next had a pit bull fatality on December 3, 2011, when Joseph D. Hines, 58, of Burnettsville, an outlying suburb, was killed by Honey, a male pit bull he had reportedly adopted at about the same time Amaya Hess was attacked.
The mayhem continued with the June 2013 mauling of four-year-old Rayvin Crawford by a pit bull named Felony, and a July 2013 attack on a 12-year-old boy who was critically injured by a pit bull belonging to his mother’s boyfriend, when the pit bull escaped as the boyfriend tried to put the dog into a crate.
Indeed, the Indianapolis-area pit bull mayhem, as elsewhere around the U.S., has never slowed, with most of the attacks involving mothers, grandmothers, and children in their custody.
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