Evangeline Brooks, a beloved church leader, died after being mauled by a neighbor's pit bull.
No Felony Charges
UPDATE 11/29/22: The criminal investigation after the mauling death of 88-year old Evangeline Brooks has ended. It was determined that no felony charges would be brought against the owner of the dog, Tracey Hicks. On November 7, Brooks was attacked by Hicks’ pit bull after she called out to Hicks while standing in a nearby yard. According to the Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, the greeting startled Hicks and her unleashed dog suddenlty attacked Books.
A statement from the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office also indicates the pit bull was wearing a shock collar that the canine did not respond to, so Hicks had to beat her own dog with a rake: “The dog did not respond to the Ms. Hicks’ use of the shock collar and Ms. Hicks had to beat her dog with a rake before she was able to drag the dog off of Ms. Brooks. Ms. Hicks put the dog in her house, called 911 and immediately returned to assist Mrs. Brooks,” the statement reads.
Hicks was issued five summonses, including: Dog No Breeder’s Permit, Nuisance Dog, Dog No City License, Dog No Current Rabies Vaccination and Unrestrained Dog. Each infraction is a Class 4 misdemeanor, the lowest level criminal offense in Virginia. Hicks surrendered her dog to Richmond Animal Care and Control directly after the attack and the dog was immediately put down. If found guilty on all five misdemeanor charges, Hicks could face a total penalty of $1,250.
11/10/22: Woman Dies After Dog Attack
Richmond, VA - On Monday, a retired school teacher and beloved church leader was severely mauled by a pit bull in her neighborhood. 88-year old Evangeline Brooks was attacked by the dog as she walked to her late sister's home in the 1500 block of Alaska Drive in South Richmond. She died the following day. Richmond Animal Care and Control (RACC) Director Christie Chipps-Peter confirmed the organization euthanized the attacking dog, which she identified as a pit bull-mix.
First Baptist Church of South Richmond senior pastor and former Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones said Brooks "was the salt of the Earth, she was a wonderful person," and "for a person in their upper 80s to lose their life in such a horrendous way, it is something that really causes us concern on top of our grief." Richmond police are currently working with RACC and will consult with the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office regarding any potential charges. The investigation is ongoing.
Jones served as the Mayor of Richmond from 2009 to 2015 and was a Virginia state delegate from 1994 to 2009. Jones said that local and state officials need to pass stronger laws. "There need to be laws that will dictate the consequences of those dogs when they take the life of a woman in her upper 80s," Jones said. "We think that the General Assembly and city council [take action]. There needs to be some type of laws that will address this kind of issue going forward," Jones said.
Felony Dog Attack Law
In 2006, after an 82-year old woman was killed by her neighbor's pit bulls, the state legislature passed a felony dog attack law. A guilty verdict requires proving beyond a reasonable doubt that any owner whose "willful act or omission in the care, control, or containment of a canine" is "so gross, wanton, and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life," and is the proximate cause of such dog or other animal attacking and causing serious bodily injury to any person.
All that is known about the dog's owner at this time is that the person is female. The victim's neighbor, Roxanne Tune, describes what happened when she learned the dog had bitten Brooks in the neck. "I took off running down there. I saw her laying there, and the lady of the dog or the owner was holding her [neck] pressuring…I asked if she was breathing?" Brooks was transported to a local hospital, but according to her son, Howvard Brooks, she was already brain-dead.
Howvard had to make the difficult decision to remove her from life support. "My mother went 30 minutes without breathing when they were working on her," he said. "They said she would not come out of the coma that she was in." He continues to be in shock. "My mother was incredible. She was phenomenal," Howvard said. "It is a big loss. It is a big loss for me. I know that I made up my mind that each day I need to be the best that I can be," Howvard said fighting back tears.
Began as Cat Attack
Early video footage from WIRC states the attack began as an animal attack. "As the 88-year old was in the driveway, a dog next door that was loose initially went after a cat that was near her, but ended up attacking Brooks." Police have not confirmed this scenario. However, this type of redirected attack that began as animal aggression then redirected onto a human is why shelters should never adopt out dogs with serious animal aggression, but they do so routinely anyway.
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Law enforcement departments across the United States should release consistent "baseline" information to the media and the public after each fatal dog mauling, including these items.