A pack of pit bulls in Modesto “viciously” mauled a 59-year-old man to death and left his 77-year-old mother in a medically induced coma, authorities said Wednesday.
Authorities have identified the man who was killed as Juan Fernandez of Modesto. His mother, Maria Fernandez, remained in critical condition, authorities said.
Juan Fernandez died from traumatic injuries he suffered after being attacked by the dogs, said Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson.
Fernandez and his mother were attacked by the pit bulls just after 5:46 p.m. Tuesday at their home in the 800 block of Glenn Avenue, Christianson said. The pit bulls escaped from a neighboring property, he said.
“I have never seen this level of viciousness in any animal,” he told The Times. “This is just shocking.”
Authorities fielded numerous calls from neighbors reporting the attack on the man.
Deputies arrived to find three pit bulls “viciously mauling” the man in the backyard of his home, he said. A fourth dog was circling the man.
Fernandez was unconscious, unresponsive and unable to defend himself against the pit bulls, authorities said.
Fearing for the man’s safety, deputies shot and killed two of the dogs. The other two dogs ran into a nearby yard, prompting deputies to set up a perimeter surrounding them.
While searching Fernandez’s home, authorities said they found his mother, who had also been attacked by the dogs.
The mother and son were immediately taken to a hospital as deputies stayed behind to capture the remaining two pit bulls. At one point, the dogs charged at the deputies, prompting them to shoot and kill the animals.
Authorities have not released the names of the pit bulls’ owners, but say they have identified them.