Tonawanda News

April 10, 2007

Officer shoots two pitbulls who attacked man and woman

By Jill Harmacinski

LAWRENCE, Mass. — A police officer shot two ''out of control'' pit bulls who attacked their owners outside a house on Lowell Street Monday night.

Police found a woman hysterical and bleeding profusely outside the three-family house. The dogs chased her boyfriend into an apartment where he barricaded himself inside a bathroom after he was mauled by one of his animals.

Children also were hiding from the dogs in a bedroom, police said.

Police Chief John Romero said police received two ''frantic 911 calls'' about ''out of control'' dogs in a house.

Patrolman Timothy Yerian, with "complete disregard for his own safety," entered the apartment house and shot both dogs preventing further harm, Romero said.

"He went in there at a great personal risk knowing there were people in the apartment and two dogs running freely that had already bitten two people," Romero said.

One pit bull died instantly and the other was euthanized later last night at a local animal hospital, said Romero, noting the investigation was in the "preliminary stages."

The pit bull owners turned victims, Michael Figueroa, 24, and Laura Dubois, 24, both of 11 Bassett St., Lowell, suffered severe puncture wounds and possible fractures in the 9:30 p.m. attacks.

Police said Figueroa and Dubois came to Lawrence last night to visit a friend, Dennis Cruz, who lives at 431 Lowell St.

Figueroa and Dubois were sitting in a car outside the apartment house when they started arguing. The dogs were in the car with them. One of the pit bulls first attacked Figueroa, pulling at the hood of his sweat shirt and biting his left arm. A pit bull then attacked Dubois, biting and possibly fracturing both of her arms.

After the attack, the couple escaped from the car and the dogs ran after them, and later inside Cruz's apartment.

Police said they believe just one of the pit bulls did the biting.

Yerian responded to the apartment after police received two frantic 911 calls from women saying "dogs were attacking their friends," Romero said.

When Yerian went into the apartment, the dogs suddenly charged Cruz. Yerian, a 6-year veteran of the department, fired two rounds at the pit bulls in the hallway of the apartment, Romero said.

Figueroa and Dubois were taken to Lawrence General Hospital by ambulance. Romero said their injuries were serious but not life-threatening.

The incident remained under investigation early Tuesday morning and no further information was available.

Jill Harmacinski writes for The Eagle-Tribune in North Andover, Mass.