A Black Virginia church mother who served her congregation faithfully for 25 years was fatally mauled by a pit bull mix dog while taking her daily morning stroll. Calls have been made by the community to politicians to create additional laws that will prevent tragic animal-related injuries or deaths from happening.
On Monday, Nov. 7, around 6:45 a.m., members of the Richmond Police Department responded to an emergency call in the 1500 block of Alaska Drive. According to official documents, the officers were called regarding a dog attack on a victim who was found to be Evangeline Brooks, an 88-year-old mother and member of First Baptist Church of Southside Richmond.
She was attacked as she walked to her sister’s home on Alaska Drive, near Hull Street, reports say.
WTVR reports that upon arrival the police found the octogenarian mutilated by the dog’s vicious attack, and after transporting her to a local hospital she was pronounced dead the next day.
Brooks had served her church with dedication over the past three decades.
Her senior pastor, Rev. Dwight Jones, reflected fondly on her life, saying, “We have members who come and go, and then there are special members who mean a lot.”
The pastor explained how active Brooks was stating, “She was a deacon, choir member, and Sunday school teacher.”
Rev. Jones said she also mentored other deacons, “especially female deacons. She was very specific about your dress and your attire, and how you should respond as a deacon and act as a deacon and how we should even operate when we were visiting other churches.”
Before retiring from her career as an educator, she was a schoolteacher for Chesterfield County Public Schools for many years. She transferred her passion for teaching from the classroom to the pews of her church.
“She was an excellent, excellent Christian woman. She served in many capacities in this church,” Jones informed. “There are many people in the church who she taught [at A.M. Davis Elementary School in Chesterfield]. They’re grown now, of course, but they were her students. And so, she really commanded a lot of respect. We don’t have mothers per se in our church, but she was indeed a mother figure.”
Brooks’ neighbor, Roxie Ann Tune, saw the attack unfold, noting it happened three doors down from the house she shares with her son.
“A truck pulled up and a man was saying ‘The dog bit her, the dog bit her.’ I said ‘bit her where?’ He said ‘in the neck,’” Tune told ABC 8 News. “I took off running down there and I saw her laying there and the dog’s owner was holding her and I said ‘is she breathing?’”
Tune described, “She was laying here face down, and at that point, he had knocked some belongings off on her. Her shoes was laying right here. She was actually right here. And the lady who lives over here was holding her on her neck.”
Her only son, Howvard Brooks, said his mother was already brain-dead when she arrived at the hospital and he made the decision, with great pain, to take her off life support on Tuesday, Nov. 8.
“My mother went 30 minutes without breathing when they were working on her,” Brooks said. “They said she would not come out of the coma that she was in.”
As the son doted on his mother, he shared one of her favorite songs to sing was the hymn, “Jesus on the Mainline.” He remembered those many times the two would sing the song together, “My mother was just incredible. She was phenomenal.”
The dog that attacked Brooks has since been euthanized, after being surrendered to Richmond Animal Care and Control custody. RACC put the dog down on Monday, shortly after the incident.
The agency is working with the police and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office as they investigate the incident. No charges have been related to the public and law enforcement is asking for information about the mauling to be sent to Major Crimes Detective Sergeant J. Flores at (804)-646-6670 or Crime Stoppers at (804)-780-1000.
The pastor, who in addition to serving as mayor of Richmond from to 2009 through 2015 was a Virginia state delegate from 1994 to 2009, wants those local and state officials to use this incident as a motivation to pass legislation to protect people from animal-related attacks. He wants there to be laws made in addition to the dangerous dog registry created in Virginia after a dog attack in Spotsylvania County.
“There need to be laws that will dictate the consequences of those dogs when they take the life of a woman in her upper 80s,” Jones said. “We think that the General Assembly and city council [take action]. There needs to be some type of laws that will address this kind of issue going forward.”