RICHMOND, Va. -- A community is mourning the loss of retired school teacher and church leader Evangeline Brooks.
Brooks, 88, was attacked by a dog as she walked to her sister's home on Alaska Drive, near Hull Street, in South Richmond on Monday, friends and family shared. She died the next day.
"She was salt of the Earth, she was a wonderful person," First Baptist Church of South Richmond senior pastor and former Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones said about his congregant and friend. "For a person in their upper 80s to lose their life in such a horrendous way, it is something that really causes us concern on top of our grief."
Richmond Animal Care and Control (RACC) Director Christie Chipps-Peter confirmed the organization euthanized the dog, which she said was a pit mix.
Richmond Police are working with RACC and will consult with the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office regarding any charges. The investigation is ongoing at this time.
Jones said Brooks and one of her sisters, who passed away last year, lived in the neighborhood where she died.
"She was an excellent, excellent Christian woman. She served in many capacities in this church," Jones said. "There are many people in the church who she taught [at A.M. Davis Elementary School in Chesterfield]. They're grown now, of course, but they were her students. And so she really commanded a lot of respect. We don't have mothers per se in our church, but she was indeed a mother figure."
Friend and First Baptist Church of South Richmond executive minister Cheryl Ivey Green said Brooks' reach extended well beyond their one church.
"She was very active in the Deacons Ministry of Richmond and vicinity. So I know that she was known all over the city of Richmond," she said. "She was just such a wonderful mentor to all deacons, but especially female deacons. She was very specific about your dress and your attire, and how you should respond as a deacon and act as a deacon and how we should even operate when we were visiting other churches."
Jones, who in addition to serving as Mayor of Richmond from January 2009 - December 2015 was a Virginia state delegate from 1994 to 2009, said local leaders needed to do more to protect people from dogs.
"There need to be laws that will dictate the consequences of those dogs when they take the life of a woman in her upper 80s," Jones said. "We think that the General Assembly and city council [take action]. There needs to be some type of laws that will address this kind of issue going forward."
Virginia established a dangerous dog registry following a fatal 2005 dog attack in Spotsylvania County.
Other dog-related laws on the books in Virginia include:
- 3.2-6540 Control of Dangerous Dogs; Penalties
- 3.2-6540.1 Vicious Dogs; Penalties
- 3.2-6542 Establishment of Dangerous Dog Registry
- 2 VAC 5-620 Regulations Pertaining to the Establishment of the Dangerous Dog Registry
For now, Jones is focused on comforting those who loved Brooks.
"When the elders leave the church, it leaves a vacuum. Because their norm, their mores, their understanding of how to live life is so different than today's generation," Jones said. "So every time we lose one, we lose more than a person. We are chipping away, at what makes for a civil society, what makes for a society where people love God and love each other. So her loss is chipping away at that foundation."
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Major Crimes Detective Sergeant J. Flores at (804) 646-6670 or Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000.
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