Daniel Bonacorsi, 58, was killed by a pair of pit bulls inside a boarded-up vacant Detroit building.
Man Killed by Pit Bulls
Detroit, MI - A 58-year old man was discovered dead inside a boarded-up vacant building on Tuesday. Police believe the man was attacked and killed by two pit bulls being kept in the building. The man was found around 1:30 pm inside an expansive vacant building in the 5400 block of West Fourth Street. According to Detroit police Cpl. Dan Donakowski, the man had entered the building with another person. Both pit bulls were captured by Detroit Animal Care and Control Division.
Police later clarified the other man did not get attacked by the dogs. "There was another person along with him that did not get attacked," Donakowski said. Police are unsure "if he was actually at the scene at the time that the male was attacked, but he was near the location." Police also said that both men had been trying to help the dogs when the two pit bulls attacked one of the men. Surprisingly, both dogs were fully licensed and vaccinated indicating the dogs have an owner.
Detroit Free Press reports that the building was under renovation and confirmed the dogs were owned, licensed, vaccinated and secured by the property owner, according to John Roach, director of media relations for the city of Detroit. WDIV-TV interviewed Gordon Compton, who lives nearby. Compton said a woman escaped the same fate a few weeks earlier as she tried to feed the dogs. The dogs also ran loose in the area. Nearby residents want the building torn down.
Fox 2 Detroit reports that another suspicious death occurred at this building on September 7, 2022. Detroit police were dispatched to the same building after a man apparently broke in and was discovered dead. Police said the dogs had come in contact with the man, but his cause of death is still undetermined. The Wayne County Medical Examiner said "there are external findings that require further interpretation." The building's manager would not comment to the reporter.
There are several cases where the same dogs killed a human being, and for a variety of reasons -- such as police did not initially suspect the dogs as the culprits or authorities were forced to release the dogs back to their owner -- and the dogs killed a second person. The most recent case involves the 2018 conviction of Eric Hodges in Benton County, Mississippi. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison after his pack of pit bulls killed two different men over a 10-week period.
The Dog's Owner
On Wednesday, a Detroit man named Dustin Shepherd stated in a Facebook post that he owned the two pit bulls. "They got my dogs I will be getting them back the guy broke into the building and my dogs felt threatened and protected their home," he wrote. In the post, he links to the WXYZ report. Shepherd added in comments, "I got two lawyers on it they are going to save my dogs." That sounds more like the September 7 incident, when an intruder did break into the building.
On March 27 Shepherd posted that he licensed and vaccinated his dogs. According to Shepherd, his male pit bull weighed 66-pounds and the female weighed 65-pounds. On November 6, 2022 Shepherd took both of his dogs for a walk and passed by the same building (@ 5:14) at 5435 West Fort Street, known as, "The Works." One year earlier, Shepherd posted that I "got my boy out of jail," referring to his male pit bull, that he had retrieved from the Taylor Animal Shelter.
In the November video, as he walks by the building, Shepherd states, "We're not going home, we're going to keep walking. Don't worry..."
Finally, after his two pit bulls killed Daniel Bonacorsi on April 4, 2023, Shepherd posted to social media, "It happened again my boy DeNiro got another body two guys broke into the building today and my dogs felt threatened so one of the two guys did not make it out." That post has since been removed. Perhaps, that's not a good thing to brag about if Shepherd desperately wants his double man killing pit bulls returned to him (so the dogs can kill a third individual). Seriously. Detroit.
Graphic Medical study: Pitbull Mauling Deaths in Detroit, by Cheryl L. Loewe MD et al., The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, Vol 28, December 2007.
08/22/19: 2019 Dog Bite Fatality: 9-Year Old Girl Killed by Three Pit Bulls on Detroit's West Side
03/08/18: 2014 Dog Bite Fatality: Mississippi, Second Human Fatality Inflicted by Same Pit Bulls
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.