A construction worker stopped a PIT BULL ATTACK Monday after being alerted to the situation by a neighborhood boy.
Derrick Johnson, who works for CS McCrossan Construction, knew something was wrong when he saw the urgency in young Marshall Schmitz's face.
"He ran up and said, 'You better get down there,'" Johnson said. "It was a totally different demeanor than he usually has."
Johnson, who is part of a crew building a noise barrier wall along the Highway 100 project in St. Louis Park, already knew Marshall. The 9-year-old boy has been biking to the construction site all summer, watching the construction crews work.
"I watch all the machines pass by," Marshall explained. "They're working on water mains and sewer drains at the same time."
The boy has become such a regular that the construction workers got him his own safety vest and hard hat, complete with an International Union of Operating Engineers Local 149 sticker. The boy often visits the workers on their 9:30 a.m. coffee break.
"He's been very good about listening to directions and keeping a safe distance from the machinery," Johnson told KARE.
Johnson was driving his telehandler machine down the 2800 block of Toledo Avenue Monday when young Marshall flagged him down and notified him of the attack.
"I saw a man walking a little dog, and then a pit bull I'd never seen before run after the man," Marshall recalled. "And the man was holding his little dog in his arms in the air, and then the man got knocked over."
At first Johnson couldn't see what the boy was talking about. But within a minute the construction worker was on the pavement wrestling with the pit bull.
"I grabbed a hold of him by the collar and held him down to the ground, BUT HE WOULD NOT LET GO OF THE LITTLE DOG EVEN THOUGH THE DOG WAS ALREADY DEAD," JOHNSON SAID.
"The little dog's owner already had six or seven dog bites and was in a lot of pain."
Johnson finally got the pit bull to relinquish its grip of the little dog and tried to lead it away. But the pit bull bolted right past Johnson and again started biting the little dog's 78-year-old owner Galen Carlson.
"He was yelling, 'Help! Get it off of me!
The construction worker was holding the dog down for a second time when two St. Louis Park Police officers rolled up and came to his aid.
"When we arrived, the construction worker, Derrick Johnson, was doing his best to try to get this pit bull off of this elderly male," Officer Mike Merwin told KARE.
"A couple of us assisted Derrick in keeping the animal pinned to the street until we could subdue it enough to get it into my squad car."
Officer Merwin eventually retrieved some gauze from a first aid kit and used it to wrap around the pit bull's muzzle.
"I wouldn't recommend that anyone approach a pit bull, especially when it's attacking, but the efforts of Derrick were nothing short of heroic."
He said young Marshall had behaved "beyond his years" to stop what he was doing and run for help.
Carlson was taken to a local hospital for treatment and is now recovering at home, according to police
The owner of the dog said he didn't know it was loose until he saw the police cars and ambulance arrive. He could only guess the pit bull had somehow jumped the six-foot-high back yard fence.
The dog was placed in a local animal hospital for quarantine until police wrap up the investigation. It wasn't clear if the animal had any previous biting violations.
Even the first attack is enough to place the dog on the city's "potentially dangerous dog" list, requiring the owner to register and carry special liability insurance, according to Officer Merwin. A neighbor told police that the dog had previously attacked her pet as well.
As far as Derrick and Marshall go, they've bonded over an event neither will soon forget.
"It was unusual," Marshall said. "And scary."