Relatives seek comfort after dog kills toddler

February 11, 1994|By Melody Simmons | Melody Simmons,Sun Staff Writer

Hours after Tevin Williams was mauled by a pit bull terrier, his family huddled and found comfort knowing that the toddler was baptized a Catholic moments before he died.

The 1-year-old was bitten Wednesday night as he and his mother visited a friend in her Northeast Baltimore apartment. The friend was tending the dog for a man who is jailed at the Baltimore City Detention Center on a charge unrelated to the attack.

As little Tevin played with a toy truck, the dog named Rampage broke free from his leash and attacked.

Yesterday, family members sat in their East Baltimore rowhouse and recalled Tevin's short life.

They tried to remember the good times -- Tevin's smile, his giggles and his love for Barney, TV's purple dinosaur -- but quickly lapsed into grief. His grandmother Rosalee Peterson was not in the apartment when the attack occurred, but she recalled her visit to the emergency room and her daughter's description of the mauling.

"We went in to see him after the doctors left, and my daughter started screaming, 'Oh, God. Oh, my baby. Wake up, Tevin! Don't leave me,' " said Ms. Peterson.

Police said Tevin was attacked around 8 p.m. The toddler's mother, Shanita Matthews, 20, grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed the terrier, trying to break his grip. But the dog seemed to bite harder and shake its head furiously, Ms. Peterson said. "The dog would not let go," she said.

He was bitten on the right leg, right side of the neck, left ear, face and back of the neck. City police and paramedics gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation before the toddler was taken to Francis Scott Key Medical Center, where he died about 9 p.m.

Rampage was taken by police to the city's animal shelter and was to be destroyed, said Earl Watson, director of the city Bureau of Animal Control.

After Tevin died, Ms. Matthews and Ms. Peterson returned to their home in the 500 block of N. Luzerne Ave. Ms. Peterson said TV account of the incident, which showed the dog, sparked an emotional outburst from her daughter. "She started to hit the television," she said.

While Ms. Matthews made funeral arrangements, City Council President Mary Pat Clarke phoned the house and offered assistance to the family.

"I just don't know why this happened," said Ms. Peterson. "Somebody told me to pray and ask God to help me. That's what I am doing. I have the worst headache. I close my eyes, and all I can see is Tevin."

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