By Alexis Stevens firstname.lastname@example.org
Weekday mornings on Gideons Drive are filled with laughter and shrieks of children toting backpacks to the school bus stop. But Tuesday morning, the shouting took on a different, frightening quality.
“I realized the kids weren’t playing,” Angie Smith said. “It was a different kind of scream and a different cry.”
The scene on the southwest Atlanta street was horrific. A 6-year-old boy lay covered with blood in a front yard. Nearby, a 5-year-old girl lay in the street with grievous injuries to her head and face.
In an extraordinarily savage attack, two dogs that had wandered over from another street set upon the children as they walked to their bus stop. Logan Braatz, 6, died at the hospital later in the morning. Syari Sanders, 5, underwent emergency surgery at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston and was in stable condition Tuesday night, her great-aunt said.
The scenes from Gideons Drive on Tuesday were shocking and unforgettable. Little kids fighting with vicious dogs, trying to keep the animals off their friends. An Atlanta police officer, gun in hand, approaching a dog on the porch, the dog’s fur tinged pink with the children’s blood. A neighbor going after the dogs with a gun of his own.
Logan and Syari were classmates at F.L. Stanton Elementary School and lived one house apart from each other. Both were targeted by the dogs, described as pit-bull mixes, which neighbors recognized as living at a house nearby. Logan and Syari were no match for the animals.
Neighbor Shamonta Clayton told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution his home is between those of Logan and Syari. Clayton, also a father, said he awoke to the screams outside and ran to help. Some of his neighbors were also running, terrified to see what had happened but determined to help the children.
Clayton said he first saw the badly injured girl. Then, he saw one of the dogs behind a house. When he followed that dog behind the home, he saw other children on the porch, trying to shield themselves from getting attacked. He chased the dog away.
Next, Clayton said, he saw Logan.
“The dog tried to get back to him,” Clayton said. “I chased the dog off with my gun.”
Logan wasn’t moving, and his mother was beside him in tears.
“I picked up the child’s body because the mother couldn’t do nothing but sit there and just cry, which that hurt me,” Clayton said. “I carried the child’s unconscious body — bloody body — to the ambulance.”
Officers arrived to a chaotic scene with children running and crying and dogs still on the loose, Sgt. Warren Pickard with Atlanta police said. Neighbors pointed out the dogs to officers and to Fulton County Animal Control, Pickard said.
One dog was captured more easily than the other. Two officers fired shots at the second dog, which ran about a block away but was also captured. Both dogs were taken away in an Animal Control vehicle. It was not known late Tuesday whether the animals were put down.
During their investigation, officers arrested Cameron Tucker, the dogs’ owner, and charged him with two counts of reckless conduct, both misdemeanors. Tucker was booked into the Fulton County jail, where he was being held Tuesday evening on $20,000 bond, booking records showed. Any additional charges will be determined by the Fulton District Attorney, Pickard said.
Pickard praised the bravery of the children who witnessed the dogs attack the others.
“After they heard their friends getting attacked, they ran back to the scene to try to help,” Pickard said.
One of the children, 7-year-old Mason Williams, said one of the dogs bit the hood of his jacket before attacking his cousin, Syari.
“I looked down and I saw a brick,” he said. “Then I picked it up and that’s when the dogs started running at me. And then (one of them) knocked me down.”
Logan’s uncle, Andy Brasley, told Channel 2 Action News that the 6-year-old “was everything anyone would want in a child.”
“He meant and still means the world to every single person he’s ever touched in his life,” Brasley said, “because all he ever wanted was to make a friend.”
John Spink contributed to this report.