DETROIT – The owner of four pit bulls that mauled and killed a young Detroit boy has been charged with murder, the prosecutor said Monday.
Geneke Antonio Lyons, 41, owned the four dogs that attacked 4-year-old Xavier Strickland on Wednesday, dragging him away from his mother after they'd been walking on the city's west side, said a news release from the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office.
Three of the dogs were killed by shots fired by a police sergeant at the scene. A fourth dog was quarantined and later destroyed. Lyons faces charges of second-degree murder, manslaughter and possessing dangerous animals causing death, the news release said.
Meanwhile, the family of Xavier Strickland has filed two lawsuits against the dogs' owner and the property owner. Lucillie and Clarence Strickland are asking for damages.
The family is represented by Mark Bernstein of the Sam Bernstein Law Firm, who said that Xavier's death should force the community to consider what they believe is a "long-standing problem of Detroit property and dog owners who fail to show an acceptable level of responsibility to protect their innocent neighbors."
Lucillie Strickland was walking with Xavier about 12:30 p.m. Dec. 2 on her way to volunteer at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School when the pit bulls rushed at them. She fell on the boy and was bit on her ear, leg and back. As she was getting up, the dogs grabbed Xavier. The lawsuit states that Xavier's mother was permanently injured trying to save her son's life.
The prosecutor's news release said the dogs had been a known problem in the neighborhood and had escaped their fenced area in the past.
"This case should be a wake-up call for our community," Bernstein said.