James Nevils was looking forward to spending time with his grandson, who was named for him and whose family had just moved back to Chicago.
But on Monday night, Nevils got a call saying young James had been attacked by a dog and was in bad shape. By the time he got to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, his grandson was dead.
"It's just devastating to lose my grandson like this," Nevils, 53, said Tuesday morning, crying. "It's unfathomable that my grandson could be gone like this. We was suppose to spend time together this weekend."
Police and neighbors said the dog bit the 5-year-old boy in the throat about 9:35 p.m. Monday and didn't let go until neighbors in the 8900 block of South Carpenter Street repeatedly beat the dog, finally killing it.
On Tuesday, blood still stained the front sidewalk and door of the house where the attack occurred.
No one at the house would speak to reporters, but neighbors said the dog belonged to a family who had recently moved to the block. James and his sister and mother were visiting, and the dog was supposed to be locked up, they said.
Brandon Lindsey, 25, said he heard screams from inside the house. Then he saw the young boy's mother pulling the dog outside by its legs. The entire time the dog had a firm grip on James' neck and would not let go.
"She was pulling him like a rag doll," Lindsey said. "The boy seemed lifeless."
Lindsey grabbed a metal chair from his porch and ran and slammed the dog. His neighbors came running with pipes, sticks and bricks and continued beating the dog.
"It was just horrible," Lindsey said. "It was ridiculous. Everyone tried to help. We called the police. I couldn't believe it."
One of the neighbors who ran to the boy's help was Marquis Lewis.
"I started hitting the dog with a brick. My brother grabbed a pole from somebody," he said. "Then once we got the dog off the baby, we started hitting the dog with the pole and the brick until he died."
Another neighbor, Bianca White, said she was pulling up to her home across the street when she saw young James' mother trying to get the dog off the boy.
"They were trying to drag it out of the house, I guess so people could help," White said. "So my brother went across the street to get a chair to get the dog off the baby, but it didn't work.
"So other people started coming," she said. "It had him around the neck, he wasn't letting go. He was just shaking him by his neck. ... They finally got him off, and the boy was sitting there lifeless. ... It was the scariest thing I ever seen in my life."
White said she had seen the dog in the neighborhood, and it had never caused any trouble.
Another neighbor said the dog briefly let go of James but then "went back and grabbed the little boy."
"That's when the man kept beating the dog, beating the dog," said the neighbor, who did not want to be identified. "I seen the mother holding the child, it was horrible. The child wasn't moving. The mother was screaming, 'My baby, my baby.' "
Nevils said he wants the owner of the dog to be held accountable.
"This dog took a young life, and the person responsible should be made to pay," he said. "He was a good boy, a very good boy. I just can't believe he's gone. I'm just devastated."
Like most children his age, James was playful, cheerful and energetic, Nevils said.
"He was all boy," he said. "Basketball, football, he was all boy. He was a loving little kid."
Police reported no one in custody.
Brad Powers, a spokesman for the Commission on Animal Care and Control, said the dog was "large and muscular."
"While we have no way to confirm a dog breed based on physical characteristics alone, the animal has features consistent with the Dogo Argentino breed," he said in an email.
Copyright © 2015, Chicago Tribune