The dogs believed to be involved in a Sunday fatal attack on a Mount Pleasant boy had apparently been a concern of family members, according to a sheriff's incident report released today.
The victim's grand-uncle owned three dogs and a fourth often showed up on the family's rural unincorporated Mount Pleasant property.
The family "told him those dogs were going to hurt the children and had been chasing them in the yard," a witness reportedly said, according to a Charleston County Sheriff's incident report released Thursday.
Authorities are still trying to determine if two dogs seized at the scene were actually responsible for 2-year-old Ja'Marr Tiller's death. A forensic animal-bite expert is examining evidence in the case.
Coyotes are commonly seen all over Mount Pleasant, so that's a possibility, said sheriff's spokesman Major Jim Brady, but at this point, all options are being considered.
"That's something we are investigating," Brady said Wednesday. "The investigators will try to determine if the animals we have in custody are responsible."
But in the immediate aftermath of the attack, family members placed blame on the dogs, though they later told reporters they were not concerned about any danger posed by the animals. Neighbors described the local dogs as roaming but not particularly aggressive.
On 911 calls, however, the boy's grandmother said the dogs had taunted children.
The dogs are "always chasing the children," said Cathy Tiller, 57, on the 911 call.
Deputies immediately seized a black dog and later trapped a second brown canine, the report states. Deputies also collected vomit left by the black dog as they were investigating the scene.
Ja'Marr was supposed to be down for the night sleeping when apparently he left the family's home and ventured into the yard around 8 p.m. Sunday.
The boy's mother, who had left the home briefly to run errands, discovered the boy, naked and bleeding, when she returned home, the sheriff's report states.
The child's grand-uncle, the owner of the dogs, said he hadn't seen Ja'Mar for roughly an hour before the attack. The man told deputies he was inside the home with his niece.
Sheriff Al Cannon on Monday deflected questions about the potential for criminal charges, saying the family is grieving and that it was too soon to speculate on that possibility.
An April dog attack that killed an infant in Dorchester County resulted in the father being charged with criminal neglect.