(USA TODAY) Los Angeles authorities are investigating whether several pit bulls seized from a man suspected of growing marijuana in his home were responsible for attacking and killing a 63-year-old woman on her morning walk Thursday.
The victim was identified Friday as Pamela Maria Devitt, of Littlerock, a high-desert community about 65 miles northeast of Los Angeles in the Antelope Valley. She died in an ambulance on the way to a local hospital.
The dogs dragged Devitt 50 yards, "scalped" her and ripped off one arm, a spokesman for county Supervisor Michael Antonovich told KCAL-TV.
The fatal attack is being investigated as a possible homicide.
Alex Jackson, 29, was arrested on suspicion of cultivating marijuana at the house where the dogs were seized. He is a "person of interest" in Devitt's death, said sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore.
A motorist saw several dogs attacking Devitt, who was face down on the ground about 9:30 a.m. She honked to scare them away but the dogs then came after her car, biting its tires, said sheriff's Lt. John Corina. The driver then called 911.
"When the first deputy on scene saw one dog still attacking the woman, he tried to chase the dog away," Corina said. "The dog ran off into the desert, then turned around and attacked the deputy, the deputy fired a round at the dog and tried to kill the dog, and the dog took off into the desert."
Armed with a search warrant, deputies and animal control officials later seized six pit bulls and two mixed-breed dogs from Jackson's house.
DNA tests will determine whether some of the dogs were involved in the attack. If they were, they could be put to death.
Neighbors told KTLA-TV that the dogs had been aggressive in the past, and that they had video of them hopping the fence where they lived.
One neighbor said the dogs had attacked a man on a horse with two children earlier in the week.
"If there's people on horses or elderly people walking, they attack them," said the neighbor, who did not want to be identified.
"It's really scary," Diane Huffman, of Littlerock, told KABC-TV. "I don't know what to think. I really think I'm going to be getting a gun to protect myself."