Funeral Mass held for 9-year-old Detroit girl killed by dogs

DETROIT — A private funeral Mass has been held for a 9-year-old Detroit girl who was killed by three dogs while she rode her bike.

The Detroit News reports that purple and pink flowers decorated the entrance at St. Cunegunda Church. Those were Emma Hernandez’s favorite colors. Church bells could be heard throughout the neighborhood Saturday.

Father Zbigniew Grankowski celebrated the Mass, telling the congregation that Emma now looked down on them, adding that God is a good shepherd who knows the reason for what happened.

“At one point, Father Zbigniew stood before the suffering parents and sang a beautiful song. It was a song about a mother losing her child. The mother was Mary and the child was her son, Jesus Christ. Father Zbigniew sang the song in Polish — a highlight of a service that celebrated a child whose parents, and a majority of the people in the church, speak mostly Spanish. It needed no translation. It was perfect,” Judith Kadela, a spokeswoman for the church, told the newspaper.

A woman in the neighborhood, Alicia Castillo, called it a “beautiful scene.”

Emma was attacked Monday while riding her bike in an alley near her home. The owner of the dogs, Pierre Cleveland, has been charged with second-degree murder and other crimes for failing to control the dogs. One dog was fatally shot during the attack.

Defense attorney Emmett Greenwood says Cleveland tried to get the pit bulls or pit bull mixes off Emma.

Crux staff contributed to this report.


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