A 3-year-old New Jersey boy was playing in his new home's yard for the very first time with his mother when a neighbor's dog escaped an enclosure and attacked them both, killing the young child and leaving his mother severely injured, a source close to the family told NBC New York.
The boy, identified in a GoFundMe campaign as Aziz Ahmed, was in the backyard Tuesday afternoon with his brothers and mother. It was the first time they had been able to play back there after moving from their Brooklyn apartment in February, the source close to the family told News 4.
Between all the snow that came during the month and the cold weather that kept the snow around longer, the family hadn't been able to spend time in their yard. On top of that, the entire family also recently came down with COVID. The last day of their quarantine was Tuesday.
Get Tri-state area news and weather forecasts to your inbox. Sign up for NBC New York newsletters.
The source close to family tells NBC New York that with dad Tanveer at work, the mother and her sons were playing in the backyard of their Laurel Street home in Carteret Tuesday afternoon when the two dogs got through the fence.
The mom was able to get the older boys to run immediately inside, but little Aziz was too young to fully grasp the situation. As the dogs ran toward the young boy, his mother threw her body on top of him as protection, the source tells News 4.
It was not enough, as the dogs bit her and her son. A neighbor said he could hear the mother's cries for help, but no one was there. Another said that the woman's 10-year-old son could only call the police, and hope they could save her.
First responders quickly arrived at the scene and airlifted the young boy and his mother to the hospital.
Aziz died at the hospital. His funeral was held Thursday and he was buried at a cemetery in Morganville, a source close to the family said, in a "tiny casket surrounded by rose petals."
The mother, who was said to have suffered severe injuries, remained hospitalized as of Thursday in critical condition, officials said.
Tanveer Ahmed, the husband and father of the victims, returned to the home Wednesday. One of his coworkers from Coney Island Auto Parts said Ahmed was happy to move out of a crowded apartment in favor of the suburbs. Fellow employees and customers of the shop were already making donations to help the family.
The canines lived on the opposite side of the victims' backyard, and came charging through a hole in a fence before going after the boy and his mother. Other holes covered by cinderblocks could be seen along the fence.
No one answered the door of the home where the dogs were said to have lived. Those who knew the owners said the dogs never seemed aggressive before, and didn't seem to cause too much commotion. However, one person said the mother had told the neighbors in the past that the dogs were an issue.
It was unclear if the owners were facing charges. Town officials said municipal records show the dogs were not registered with Carteret, which is required by law. The local police chief later confirmed both dogs had been euthanized.
"As a small community, our Carteret family mourns the heart-wrenching loss of our young neighbor and we pray for this young mother and family in this time of unimaginable grief," Cartaret Mayor Daniel Reiman said Wednesday.
A joint investigation involving the Carteret Police Department and Middlesex County prosecutor's office remains underway. Anyone with information can contact those offices at 732-541-4181 and 732-745-3300, respectively.