As mauled girl has surgeries, family prays for all, even dog owner

Little Syari Sanders remembers all of it. The dogs. The screams to run. Her inability to get away.

The 5-year-old tried, but she couldn’t escape the vicious attack to her face and head, leaving her small body, bloodied and helpless, in the middle of a southwest Atlanta street. Her 6-year-old classmate, Logan Braatz, was also attacked. But he didn’t survive.

» VIDEO: Police say kids tried to save pit bull victims 

“We’re blessed that we still have our Syari,” her grandmother, Sabrina Williams, said Wednesday afternoon. “I pray for everybody involved … him, the kids, everybody.”

“Him” is Cameron Tucker, the man who, according to police, owned the dogs that attacked the children Tuesday morning. Charges against Tucker were upgraded to include one felony count of manslaughter.

Tucker, who has no known criminal history, made his first court appearance Wednesday morning after spending the night in the Fulton County jail.

Tucker, arrested Tuesday, was initially charged with two counts of reckless conduct. But the Fulton County district attorney’s office upgraded one charge to involuntary manslaughter prior to his court appearance.

Tucker’s bond was set at $70,000. He is not allowed to be near animals and must avoid the victims’ families, according to the conditions of his bond. Tucker’s attorney did not return a message left Wednesday afternoon.

Logan and Syari were walking to their bus stop Tuesday morning on Gideons Drive when the dogs approached.

“When they saw the dogs, they were told to run,” Williams said. “I’m thinking that’s what set the dogs off.”

It was the screams of children that alerted neighbors that something was wrong. Some rushed outside to help, and one man chased the dogs away with his gun. He then carried Logan’s body to an ambulance, which rushed the boy to the hospital, where he died. The dogs involved — a pit bull mix and a border collie — were taken away by Fulton County Animal Control officers.

Through an attorney, the boy’s family released a statement Wednesday, thanking the community for support and asking for time to mourn.

“Logan was a wonderful little boy — energetic, happy, and full of joy. Logan simply made everyone around him a better person,” the statement read. “Logan was a huge sports fan and loved the Atlanta Falcons and Georgia Bulldogs. He was described by his family as an ‘old soul’ who even at the young age of 6 took care of everyone around him.”

The grieving family wants answers to how and why the tragedy occurred, attorneys Andrew Goldner and Joshua Stein said in an emailed statement.

“There will be plenty of time in the days, weeks and months to come to ask the hard questions about why this tragedy was allowed to happen, what could have been done to prevent it and, importantly, what can be done to prevent another similar event,” the attorneys said.

Funeral plans have not yet been announced for Logan, who was honored with a roadside memorial filled with teddy bears, flowers and a Star Wars Lego set. An online fundraising page was created to assist the family.

At Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston, Syari was alert and chatting with her family Wednesday afternoon while awaiting a second surgery, this time on her eye. Williams said the first-grader will likely be in the hospital for a month and will likely need additional surgeries.

But she doesn’t yet know about her friend, Logan. Williams said Syari, who has two younger siblings, is upset with the dogs’ owner, but doesn’t want him to go to jail.

“He hurt my feelings,” the girl told her mother and grandmother.

For now, the family is focused on Syari’s recovery, relieved that she survived and vowing not to judge the man or dogs believed responsible.

“That’s not something we want to be in charge of,” Williams said.

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