HOUMA, La. -- A four-year-old girl was mauled to death by a pit bull, that officers categorized as "a monster," in an apartment complex in Houma Tuesday night.
The child, identified as Mia DeRouen, suffered facial and head injuries following the attack by the 130 pound dog, who was staying at the home.
The attack happened inside the family home around 7 p.m., according to police. Mia and her mother, were watching television when the dog struck the little girl.
The child's mother, 27-year-old Megan Touchet, called for help and locked herself and her daughter in a room, handing the child out of the window to officers.
"The mother was able to barricade herself inside this bedroom," said Houma Police Chief Todd Duplantis. "Medical personnel arrived also, and the mother was able to hand the four year old child through the bedroom window."
Duplantis described the scene as "horrific" and said counseling was being offered to the officers who were on the scene.
Touchet was injured and taken to a hospital with moderate injuries but has since been released.
The dog, named Niko, was shot three times by officers, who then attempted to enter the apartment, according to Duplantis. "The dog was shot initially inside the residence," he said. "When the officers entered the residence to survey the situation, the dog attacked the officers."
Duplantis said that when officers tried to get inside, the dog charged them and was shot an additional 10 times, before he died.
Since the pit bull "was running loose inside the apartment acting in a very vicious manner," Duplantis said, officers used lethal force by shooting the dog to eliminate the threat of additional injuries.
But little Mia was severely bitten on the head and torso, and died at the hospital.
"It's traumatic event," said Terrebonne Parish President Michel Claudet in an appearance on the Eyewitness Morning News the day after the attack.
Claudet said the dog was one of two family pets. "They had two pit bulls, and one was over 100 pounds." The larger dog was the one that attacked four-year-old Derouen. A second pit bull found in the apartment, an uninjured six month old female that apparently was not part of the situation, is now at the animal shelter.
"Unfortunately, that's what happened and it's such a horrific event," Claudet said.
Mia would have celebrated her fifth birthday next week.
Now Houma police say their investigation into her death continues. "There are some questions and rumors about the dog possibly being trained to fight, and what have you," said Duplantis. "The detectives have been investigating this. However, I am here to report there have been no signs of abuse."
But Chief Duplantis says police and the Terrebonne District Attorney have a number of questions that still need to be answered.