"Traumatized, confused and afraid": Owner of dog killed in Center City speaks out
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Maria Esser is in tears Tuesday afternoon, curled in a ball on her sister's couch, explaining everything that happened hours before near her Center City apartment.
"We're still trying to process and piece everything together," Gabriella Esser, Maria's sister, said.
Maria said her Pitbull, Mia, was the dog killed near 15th and Spruce Monday night. Police said the person behind the trigger is an off-duty FBI Special Agent. The Esser family exclusively spoke with CBS News Philadelphia.
READ MORE: FBI Special Agent fatally shoots dog in Center City: police
"Mia was the most loving and loyal dog I could've ever asked for in my life. She was my best friend," Maria said while clutching onto Mia's leash and collar.
Sources close to the investigation tell CBS News Philadelphia surveillance video shows the special agent took numerous steps to try to deescalate what they say was an attack unfolding. Those sources also share the woman who shot the dog is FBI Philadelphia's Special Agent in Charge Jacqueline Maguire.
"She [the special agent] had a smaller dog and a larger dog attacked that dog. When she tried to get her dog back, I think the dog attacked her and then she discharged her weapon," Philadelphia Police Deputy Commissioner Frank Vanore said.
Through tears, Maria described what happened: "Next thing I know there was a woman sitting on the bench with her dog and our dogs got into an altercation. Her dog started barking at my dog and Mia had gotten a hold of the dogs' harness." She continued, "By the time I went down to, ya know, get her off the harness, this woman shot my dog."
Esser says she takes both Mia and her other dog, Mush, for the same walk every day – never once, she said, she has had an issue with Mia.
"The first thing she said to me was, 'What is wrong this you? Are you crazy? I just shot your dog,' " Maria recalled.
Her sister, Gabriella, showed Mia's leash and added it is only about three feet long.
"So she [Maria] couldn't have been that far when the gun went off," Gabriella said.
Maria added, "I was on top of her."
Gabriella responded "She was on top of her, barreled over her, she didn't even know her dog was shot."
Maria said her dog died in her arms in the back of a police van on the way to the vet.
"There is no justice. My dog has been taken from me. Something that should've been preventable. Something that should've never happened," Maria said.
The Esser sisters share in concerns with others over safety considering the high traffic area the incident happened and what they feel is stereotyping of bully breeds.
"She was barreled over Mia when the woman shot her. So it was a matter of inches between Mia and the bullet," Gabriella said. "We hope that the law will come in to play and that they'll do a thorough investigation. I don't see any world in which what this woman did could be justifiable."
Philadelphia Police's officer involved shooting unit is investigating the incident alongside the FBI. Both are reviewing body camera and surveillance video.
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