Galesburg Police are calling the death of 7-year-old Ryan Maxwell tragic. Captain Rod Riggs said Ryan was very familiar with the dog and it's unclear what caused it to attack.
Riggs said, "At the time we found the dog during the attack, it was actually still attacking the boy. At that time, we disengaged the dog from the victim and that's when he turned on one of our officers."
Riggs said an officer shot the pit bull on the spot out of defense.
Ryan was taken to the local hospital where he later passed away from his injuries.
Nielson Elementary School Principal Matt LeClere said it's a devastating loss of life for the boy's teachers and 22 classmates. He said, "Right now, I just don't see any kind of silver lining to this. I don't see any, anything to smile about at this point."
He said the second grader was a good kid, always friendly and always volunteering to help. He said, "Everybody liked Ryan. Ryan was the first to offer to help somebody if they needed something, if a pencil breaks in class and he's got a pencil there."
The elementary school has grief counselors on hand to help students and parents cope with Ryan's death.
Meantime, Captain Riggs said he's digging deeper into the case. He said, "I believe it's going to take a few days for us to really get to where we need to be. We're gathering a lot of information about not only the house but the dog itself."
A memorial fund has been set up for Ryan Maxwell. You can donate at F & M Bank in Galesburg. It's located at 21 E. Main Street.