A 47-year-old dog owner in Texas is behind bars after several of his dogs allegedly attacked and brutally mauled an elderly man to death, authorities say. Samuel Joseph Cartwright was taken into custody on Thursday and charged with one count of attack by dog resulting in death in connection to the attack on 71-year-old Freddy Garcia.
According to a press release, deputies with the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office at approximately 1:30 p.m. on July 18 responded to a call regarding a man being attacked by multiple dogs in the 4300 block of Mark Terrace Lane in Fresno. The victim, later identified as Garcia, lived in the area and was walking to a nearby store when “he was attacked by approximately seven dogs.”
Upon arriving at the scene, first responders found a badly injured Garcia and immediately transported him to Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center in downtown Houston, using the Life Flight critical care network. Shortly after arriving at the facility, Garcia succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead.
On July 19, authorities announced that they had captured four of the seven dogs believed to be involved in the attack on Garcia. The other three were still on the loose, they said.
“This is a tragic, tragic incident – being mauled by dogs. I can’t say how sorry I am for what happened,” Sheriff Eric Fagan said in a press conference one day after the attack. “He did nothing to provoke those animals. It was uncalled for. It was senseless.”
Kevin Aguilar of Fort Bend Animal Services also addressed reporters during the press conference, encouraging the community to be extra vigilant and prepared to protect themselves.
“If you’re walking in the streets, carry a stick,” he said. “We all love dogs. But a lot of them can be dangerous.”
While investigators initially believed that the dogs were strays, the remaining three dogs were allegedly found running loose in the yard of Cartwright’s home where they were then captured, according to a report from Houston ABC affiliate KTRK-TV. All seven dogs were pit bull mixes, authorities said.
Cartwright allegedly told the station that the dogs did not belong to him and further claimed that he called animal control immediately after spotting the animals. Two of the dogs reportedly still had blood on them from the attack on Garcia when they were captured by Fort Bend County Animal Services.
“There’s 20 dogs around here right now. If you drive down this back street, there will be 20 loose dogs running around,” Cartwright reportedly told KTRK. “People just dump them around here. The dogs go wherever they can find food.”
Cartwright is currently being held in the Fort Bend County Jail on $10,000 bond, online records show.
“If you have a dangerous dog, it is your responsibility to keep that dog secure, to keep the members in our community safe,” Fort Bend County District Attorney Brian Middleton said.
Middleton also explained that in 2005, a pack of pit bulls viciously attacked and killed Lillian Stiles. The legislature responded in 2007 by adopting “Lillian’s Law,” which makes the owner of a dog responsible for injuring or killing someone susceptible a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 if the owner is found to have been “criminally negligent” in failing to prevent the dog from getting loose.
Watch the press conference below.
[images via Fort Bend County Jail and KTRK screenshot]
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