NBC News and msnbc.com
updated 8/26/2010 10:45:35 AM ET 2010-08-26T14:45:35

A 7-year-old boy was mauled to death by four dogs at the home of a neighbor in Illinois, according to news reports.

Residents told NBC's News25 channel that the child, Jason Walter, his mother and brother would regularly visit the nearby home of Eric Shanklin in rural Marshall County, where the incident took place.

Sheriff Rob Russell told the NBC affiliate that the second grader at Northwest School in La Salle was attacked by a mixed-breed Shepherd and three pit-bulls in Shanklin's driveway Wednesday morning.

Emergency services were called and the boy was taken to a firehouse at Varna, but he died before a helicopter arrived to take him to a hospital, the TV station reported.

Sheriff Russell told the news channel that the mixed-breed dog belonged to Shanklin and the three pit-bulls were owned by a person staying in a trailer on the property.

"The four dogs were indeed taken to the veterinary clinic where they were euthanized and taken down to Galesburg for testing," Russell said.

Under investigation
Marshall County state’s attorney Paul Bauer told msnbc.com that the case was "still under investigation" and he was unable to say anything more about it.

Coroner Dave Lenz told the NewsTribune newspaper that a decision had been made to euthanize all four of the dogs which were at the scene, despite saying it had not been "determined which dogs participated, which dogs watched or which dogs ran away."

Lenz added that Shanklin had said one of the dogs had "previously shown aggressive tendencies," the NewsTribune reported.

However a neighbor, Billie Lindstrom, told NBC that her family had "never had any trouble with the dogs."

She described Shanklin as a "nice guy." "He hauls in for us. He's a semi-truck driver, he hauls grain for us," she said, NBC reported.

Sheriff Russell told NBC: "It's just a terrible tragedy for all those involved. EMS were, everybody was touched by this. It's a terrible tragedy. I can't say much more about it."

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Video: Dog pack mauls boy

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