Three-year-old boy mauled to death by dog named by police
A three-year-old boy who was fatally attacked by an American bulldog has been named as Dexter Neal.
The youngster died in hospital after being bitten at a property in Parker Way, Halstead, Essex, near his Ronald Road home, at around 5.40pm on Thursday.
A 29-year-old woman was arrested for allowing a dog to be dangerously out of control injuring a person. She was later released on bail.
"Agonising screams" were heard by a neighbour as the toddler was attacked by the animal.
Phyllis Younger, who has lived in Parker Way for 58 years, said she heard screaming at around 5.45pm, with emergency services arriving shortly afterwards.
The 82-year-old told the Press Association the screaming "did not go on for long" and she was sure they were from a child.
"Now I know what the scream was, it is absolutely awful," she said, adding: "It was like someone was in pain, definitely - agonising screams. It is terrible."
She said she thinks the screams came from outside, adding: "I don't think I would have heard it as clearly if it had been in the house."
Blood could be seen on the floor of an outhouse at the property, behind the police cordon, including a spatter across a child's toy car, as forensics officers inspected the scene.
Essex Police said the dog - identified as an American bulldog - had been seized by officers and placed in kennels.
Neighbour Scott Nowell, 19, described what he saw on the street in the aftermath of the attack as "terrible scenes".
He told the BBC: "I could hear terrible screams and a man in the house going 'one, two, three, four' - like he was doing chest compressions.
"The mother was on the front garden, she was down on her knees distraught and covered in blood. The ambulance and the police then came and they took over.
"The dog got quickly taken away - it was terrible, terrible scenes. Everyone was out there trying to help."
A police cordon is in place around the semi-detached property where the attack happened - with floral tributes beginning to be left outside.
Shirley Diver, the mayor of Halstead Town Council, said of the little boy's death: "It is an absolute tragedy, the whole town will be completely shocked and devastated by this.
"It is such a terrible thing to happen anywhere, you just don't expect it to happen in your town. We are a close-knit community, everybody knows everybody."
The East of England Ambulance Service said an air ambulance was called to the scene, along with two rapid response vehicles, paramedics and an ambulance.
A spokesman said: "At the scene, a young child was treated for life-threatening injuries before being airlifted to Addenbrooke's Hospital (in Cambridge).
"Sadly, despite the best efforts of everyone involved, the child has died. Our thoughts are with the family involved at this time."
Essex Police said family liaison officers have been deployed to support the family, adding: "We strongly request that their privacy is respected as this extremely difficult time."
Posting on Facebook, Jennifer Ralling said she heard the screams and ran to the scene with a man named Mark.
She added: "I'm devastated. I've known the family for years through the nursery. I remember when he was born.
"I thought we'd be able to help as we're both first aid trained but it was just so awful."
A neighbour, who asked not to be named, said the Neal family's home in Ronald Road was extremely close to the address cordoned off by police in Parker Way.
"The garden backs onto theirs and both families had kids," he said.