Owner of Pit Bull Killed by Cop in City Center Speaks Out


Maria Esser is currently experiencing emotional distress, as evidenced by her tearful state on Tuesday afternoon while curled up on her sister’s couch.

During this time, she recounted the events that occurred near her Center City apartment only hours earlier. Gabriella Esser, Maria’s sister, noted that the family is still attempting to make sense of the situation and assemble the details.

Maria reported that her Pitbull, Mia, was the dog that was killed on Monday night near 15th and Spruce. The individual responsible for pulling the trigger, according to law enforcement, is an off-duty FBI Special Agent.

The Esser family has exclusively shared their account of the incident with CBS News Philadelphia.

A Deep Affection for Mia

While holding onto Mia’s leash and collar, Maria expressed her deep affection for her loyal and affectionate Pitbull, describing her as the most loving and devoted companion she could have ever wished for.

According to sources close to the ongoing investigation, CBS News Philadelphia has learned that surveillance footage reveals the off-duty FBI Special Agent took multiple measures to defuse what they describe as an attack in progress.

These same sources have disclosed that the individual who discharged the firearm is Jacqueline Maguire, the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia office.

Philadelphia Police Deputy Commissioner Frank Vanore stated that the incident involved the special agent’s smaller dog, which was attacked by a larger dog. As she attempted to retrieve her animal, the other dog allegedly attacked her, resulting in the discharge of her weapon.

Accounts of the Event

Maria, visibly distraught, provided an account of the events that led to the tragic incident, stating that while on a walk, they encountered a woman with her dog sitting on a bench.

Maria’s dog, Mia, and the other dog engaged in a confrontation, with the other dog barking aggressively and Mia grabbing onto the other dog’s harness. Maria hurried to intervene and release her dog, but before she could, the woman shot Mia, leaving Maria devastated.

According to Maria, this was an isolated incident, and she has never encountered any trouble during her daily walks with Mia and her other dog, Mush.

Maria recounted the immediate aftermath of the shooting, recalling that the first thing the woman who shot Mia said to her was an accusatory statement asking if Maria was crazy.

Gabriella then presented Mia’s leash, which is only three feet long, indicating that Maria couldn’t have been too far away from the shooting when it occurred. Maria confirmed this, stating that she was on top of Mia at the time of the incident.

Gabriella then interjected, stating that her sister had barreled over Mia, and she was not initially aware that her dog had been shot. Maria tearfully added that Mia had passed away in her arms while being transported to a veterinarian in the back of a police van.

Maria Expressed her Frustration

Maria expressed her frustration and grief, asserting that there was no justice in the situation, as her beloved dog had been taken from her, a preventable tragedy that should never have occurred.

In addition to their own concerns, the Esser sisters empathize with the broader community, as the incident took place in a highly trafficked area, raising safety concerns for the public. They also highlighted their concerns about the unjust stereotyping of bully breeds.

Gabriella further commented on the incident, indicating that the woman had shot Mia while Maria was on top of her, and that the space between the dog and the bullet was just a matter of inches.

She expressed hope that law enforcement would conduct a thorough investigation and that justice would be served, as she could not fathom how the woman’s actions could be justified in any way.

The Philadelphia Police’s officer involved shooting unit is leading the investigation, with the FBI also participating. Both agencies are currently reviewing the available body camera and surveillance footage.

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