UPDATED: Bellaire boy bitten by dog helps track down owner; police now say investigation is ongoing
UPDATED at 12:20 p.m. May 12, 2017
Bellaire police have clarified that they have not closed the investigation into the attack by a pit bull mix dog on a Bellaire boy Monday and the subsequent actions by the dog’s owner, who took more than three days to come forward and did so only after she was identified after returning to the scene of the attack. Following is a statement from Lt. Russell Brown:
“This case as all cases requires the completion of an offense report, which includes review by a supervisor to determine if more investigation is necessary, then all report come though records division for further review, then they are assigned to the detective’s division as necessary to ensure there is no further investigation required.
“This is a unique case that is ongoing until that process has been completed.”
The mother, Bellaire resident Jill Schroeder, said she is “relieved” to hear the news after also understanding the Bellaire P.D. to say to her Friday morning that the investigation had been closed. She is continuing her own search for an eyewitness to the dog owner’s return to the scene of the attack.
By Charlotte Aguilar
Bellaire police tracked down the woman who left the scene when her pit bull mix dog attacked an 11-year-old boy near Lafayette Park earlier in the week — after the victim and two friends spotted her and the dog returning to the park Thursday night.
The 72-hour deadline had already passed for beginning a series of rabies shots for the boy because the dog’s health was unknown. His mother said she wished to keep private whether she had decided to begin the costly treatments.
Lt. Russell Brown told InstantNews Friday morning that the woman — a 30-year-old resident of Houston who works as a medical technician — came into the police department late Thursday with two dogs and proof of vaccination after police tracked down family through her license plate number that was reported by the children, and her parents convinced her to come forward. She was described by Brown as tearful and “remorseful” about the Monday attack.
Brown said police took information to the District Attorney, and that no charges will be filed — but the mother of the victim said the case hasn’t been thoroughly investigated. “There are eyewitness accounts that this dog owner left the scene twice and showed no responsibility toward my son,” said Jill Schroeder, “yet her tears seem to be enough to let her walk away with no consequences.
“She’s remorseful because she was caught. She showed no remorse when she left my son bleeding on Monday, and she showed no remorse when she realized she was wanted by police and ran again.”
The woman’s account to police Thursday night, according to Brown, was that “the dog’s leash slipped out of her hand and that the dog jumped and startled the boy.” She said she thought the dog might have bitten or scratched the child, but that he told her he was all right and that she didn’t observe any signs of blood, a bite or scratches and waited until he “calmed down” and rode away on his bike to leave the scene herself.
The statement is contrary to an eyewitness statement police described to InstantNews earlier in the week from a teen girl in the park Monday and contrary to the boy’s account — and to photographs of his visible bite wounds.
The boy — a pupil at Horn ES who has Asperger’s Syndrome, a mild form of autism — was described by the witness and his own account as being on the ground screaming when the woman ran off to capture her dog, and was still in distress when she returned to her car near him and hurriedly left the scene. Police said the boy also described an exchange when the woman told him that the dog was skittish around bicycles.
Schroeder, the victim’s mother, is also concerned that an officer who responded to her son and his friend’s call Thursday about the dog owner returning apparently did not take down information from an eyewitness who said she saw the woman enter the Officer Lucy Dog Park and then rush away after she read a flyer that had been posted by police asking her to come forward in the attack.
“That tells me that she had no intention of doing the right thing,” said Schroeder, who pointed out that the owner came forward only after she realized she had been identified by police.
Schroeder is asking that the woman who observed the dog owner — described as in her 40s with medium-length curly brown hair and driving a light-colored midsize sedan — contact her at 713-724-6067, so that what she saw can be investigated.
Bellaire Animal Control Officer Richard Perez confirmed that he had placed the dog — which he identified from records as a pit bull mix — under a five-day quarantine at a local veterinarian’s office Friday morning. Police said the mother could file an affidavit to have the quarantine and observation of the animal extended for an additional 15 days.
Police Chief Byron Holloway, who is in Washington, D.C., had told InstantNews early Friday morning that the investigation would be taken slowly to determine whether “this individual knowingly fled the scene” and whether she had been negligent in bringing an animal known to be wary of bicyclists “to a park where children play and ride” and whether she had sufficient control of the animal.
Less than two hours later, his lieutenant said the case had been closed.