Members of the First Baptist Church of South Richmond are grieving the loss of longtime member and elder Evangeline Brooks, who was mauled to death by a pit bull as she walked toward her sister's mailbox in Virginia Monday. She was 88.
"She was salt of the Earth, she was a wonderful person," First Baptist Church of South Richmond Senior Pastor Dwight Jones, a former Richmond mayor, told WTVR. "For a person in their upper 80s to lose their life in such a horrendous way, it is something that really causes us concern on top of our grief."
Officers responding to the attack say it occurred just before 7 a.m.
Brooks' neighbor Roxanne Tune, told WRIC that Brooks was walking down Alaska Drive like she does every morning to check her sister's mail when the pit bull, which has since been euthanized, bit her in the neck.
"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 recalled. "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?'"
The elder's son, Howard Brooks, told the outlet that his mother was taken to the hospital but was already brain dead. He waited a day before deciding to take her off life support.
"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."
Brooks remembered his mother as "incredible," recalling how they often sang her favorite hymn, "Jesus on the Mainline."
"My mother was just incredible," he said. "She was phenomenal."
Richmond police said the pit bull was surrendered to authorities and euthanized after the attack, but no charges have yet been filed.
Jones told WSAZ 3 that Evangeline Brooks was a dedicated church member who served in several capacities.
"We have members who come and go, but then, there are special members who really mean a lot," he said. "She was a deacon, choir member and Sunday school teacher."
The pastors said Brooks didn't deserve to die in that manner and called on city and state authorities to take steps to prevent similar deaths.
Jones also told WRIC that he thanked God for the blessing of her life.
"We are just so sad that she would lose her life in that way, but we want to take a moment to remember her and thank God for a wonderful woman, a pillar in the church," he said. "She was indeed the salt of earth and one in a million."