ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico woman who witnessed four pit bulls fatally maul another woman on Easter Sunday said Thursday that she heard screams from inside her home, then rushed outside and saw that the victim had "big chunks missing" from her head and stomach and had arms that were bitten to the bone.
Laura Russell said she hasn't been able to sleep since seeing the incident.
"I still hear her screaming in my head," she said. "I can't close my eyes."
A young man who stopped to try to help the injured 48-year-old woman, Margaret Salcedo, was chased back into his truck by the dogs, Russell said. She phoned 911, and police in the community of Truth or Consequences have said Officer James Harrington fired several shots at one of the dogs when it threatened him. That animal fled, wounded, and the officer was able to scatter the remaining dogs.
"The officer was there in a minute and a half," Russell said. "That's how long I was on the phone, and he was there before I hung up."
Russell said she brought towels to Salcedo before paramedics arrived.
The victim, who had been taking a morning walk just before the attack, died a few hours later. The wounded dog was found dead under the owners' house. The other three dogs were picked up in the yard and were quarantined at an animal shelter.
The dogs' owners weren't home when the attack occurred. State police on Thursday continued their investigation into Salcedo's death, and the results will be turned over to the district attorney's office to decide whether the dogs' owners will be charged.
Police Chief Patrick Gallagher has said the city hadn't received any complaints about the dogs.
Russell said she didn't know Salcedo, but the two would occasionally say hello to one another.
"I saw her walking up and down the street," she said. "She always talks to my dog, says, 'Don't worry, I'm just walking by.'"