Cruces cops continue probe of dog attack that killed toddler

Neighbor trying to stop mauling shot child’s grandmother

Las Cruces Police Department

Las Cruces police are continuing to investigate the death of a 15-month-old girl who was mauled Tuesday by the family’s dog — and what appears to be the accidental shooting of the child’s grandmother by a well intentioned neighbor who was trying to stop the attack. Police identified the dead girl as Jazilyn Mesa.

Jazilyn’s paternal grandmother, Leticia Mesa, 52, was accidentally shot by a neighbor who heard cries for help and was trying to stop the pit bull from attacking the girl. Leticia Mesa was taken to University Medical Center of El Paso with a single gunshot wound to a leg and foot. Her injuries are not life-threatening, police said.

Shortly before 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 8, Las Cruces Police were called to the 800 block of Stone Canyon Driveby a neighbor who reported hearing Leticia Mesa screaming for help. The neighbor, 69-year-old Barry Snyder, saw that the dog was attacking the girl and that Leticia Mesa was trying to cover the child.

Snyder retrieved a .45 caliber handgun from his home, called 911 and went to the aid of the girl and grandmother. Detectives learned that Snyder entered the backyard and fired the first shot as the 2-year-old pit bull aggressively closed distance on him. The shot appears to have missed the dog but accidentally struck Leticia Mesa’s right thigh.

Snyder fired four more rounds at the dog which ran to a side yard. Snyder followed the dog and fired two more rounds which killed the pit bull.

Las Cruces Police officers arrived to find Jazilyn and Leticia Mesa in the front yard of the home. The child was suffering from multiple injuries to her head and chest and was rushed toMountain View Regional Medical Center, where she died shortly after noon.

The girl’s body was taken for autopsy to the medical investigator’s office in Albuquerque. The pit bull, later determined to weigh 85 pounds, was taken to Albuquerque for a necropsy, or post-mortem exam.

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