By KRISTIN J. BENDER | Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Police in Northern California shot and killed a wild and possibly sick coyote after it bit a man and a child and tried to attack a third person in separate attacks in residential neighborhoods on Christmas.
As a precaution, the victims are being treated for rabies, police said. Tests on the coyote are expected back Tuesday.
Police shot and killed the animal after it bit the 42-year-old man and the 5-year-old boy child on separate streets nearly a mile apart on Thursday, Fremont police spokeswoman Officer Geneva Bosques said.
“We've had a lot of questions about why we didn't use tranquilizers, and our officers and animal service officers don't carry them,” Bosques said. “In addition, in this case we had an animal that was randomly attacking people and we believed it would continue to do so based on its behavior.”
Police say the attacks started when the coyote quietly approached the man and bit his leg as he was walking to his car with his children. The man ran with his children to a house and the coyote followed them, but he got everyone inside and shut the door before the coyote could get in, police said. The coyote left the area after several minutes, and officers searched but couldn't find it.
Less than an hour later, a runner more than half a mile away said he was chased by what he described as a wolf. He kicked off the animal and wasn't hurt.
Officers were later told that a child in the same area was bitten on the leg. Bosques said the coyote “came out of nowhere” and bit the child. The boy's father ran to his aid and tried to scare the animal away.
All the victims, who were not identified by police, were treated and released from hospitals.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife later retrieved the coyote from an animal shelter where it was taken after it was shot by police. A state Department of Public Health lab will test the brain tissues of the animal to determine if it had rabies.
The city's animal services department is handling the investigation.