Man facing murder, other charges after 9-year-old girl killed by dogs

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A 33-year-old man is facing multiple charges after police say his three dogs mauled a 9-year-old girl to death earlier this week in southwest Detroit. 

Pierre Montgomery has been charged with second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and for having a dangerous animal causing death. He was given a $2 million cash surety bond, with no 10% during his arraignment Thursday afternoon.  

Prosecutors allege his dogs also killed multiple puppies two weeks before the mauling, and that he left the dogs alone in a backyard that he knew was not secure. The prosecutor also said that after he learned what happened, he texted his friend from his cell phone, asking him to 'come get my keys and come get those plants' - referring to marijuana plants. 

"My condolences," words quietly spoken by 33-year-old Pierre Cleveland - charged with second degree murder, manslaughter and having a dangerous animal causing death.

The death of 9-year-old Emma Hernandez - who was riding her bike with her brother through their alley behind Central Avenue Monday afternoon, when she was attacked by three pit bulls belonging to Pierre Cleveland.

"The defendant was harboring dogs he knew to be vicious," said the assistant prosecutor. "That he knew to be aggressive."

Prosecutors say Cleveland had left the dogs outside in a yard that wasn't secure with a garage door open to the alley and that he knew the dogs were dangerous - a neighbor had called animal control when they got out once before- but now we're learning even more disturbing allegations about how vicious those dogs had been before the deadly attack.

"The defendant knew that a week prior to his dogs killing Emma Hernandez - one of his dogs killed a puppy in his home, that the dogs fought with each other in his home and that one of the dogs killed multiple puppies on July 29, 2019 - just two weeks before this incident," the prosecutor said.

Prosecutors say text messages will also show after the attack Cleveland sent a message asking his friend to come get his keys and his marijuana plants.

The attorney for Pierre Cleveland told a judge that's irrelevant to the case and that his client is not well - recently losing three fingers while at work as a machinist. Attorney Emmett Greenwood asked that Cleveland be given bond.

For one -he no longer intends to live at that residence and for two he no longer possesses those dogs. They have been taken by police and will be euthanized.

But the magistrate made sure Cleveland won't be going anywhere setting bond at $2 million.  The defense attorney called that bond amount outrageous - but declined to comment on the case.

Cleveland's family is receiving death threats and had only this to say through their lawyer: "The family is just praying for this precious child."

Emma Hernandez was riding her bike around 4 p.m. on Monday near her house in the 6000 block of Central when, out of nowhere, what police describe as three pit bulls knocked her over and attacked. 

Several neighbors saw what happened and tried to help, along with the girl's father and brother. But the girl could not be saved. 

"She had bite marks in other areas of her body," a neighbor, Deborah Golden, told us. "It wasn't good."

We're told first responders, some of whom underwent trauma counseling as a result of this, continued to perform CPR while there was gunfire all around them. It was coming from neighbors who were able to shoot one of the dogs. The other two were eventually seized by animal control officers. 

Detroit Animal Care and Control says they have all three dogs in their possession, and it's likely they'll be euthanized. 

Meanwhile, the community and Emma's loved ones are devastated at her sudden loss of life. 

"I'm going to miss hearing her say 'I love you Daddy' in the morning every day," her father, Armando Hernandez, told us. 

"What hurts me the most is, I can't imagine the pain she was going through being attacked by these dogs until she finally passed away," Hernandez said.

And it's pain that possibly could have been prevented. Neighbors say they made complaints about loose dogs in the area in the past. In fact, we're told Detroit Animal Care and Control got a call back in March of 2018 about two of the three dogs that would later attack Emma.

A resident complained the pit bulls had got out of their fence. Animal control officers canvassed the area but never found the dogs, and they were unable to get in contact with the owner after making two trips to his house. 

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Emma's death, while incredibly tragic, is making a tight-knit family and community that much closer. The memorial in front of her home seems to grow by the hour as friends and strangers lift her family in prayer.

If you'd like to make a donation to her family, you can do so via a GoFundMe account online here