An elderly man was killed and three others injured in a violent dog attack in a residential neighborhood of San Antonio Friday afternoon, authorities said, with responding firefighters themselves having to fight off the dogs to reach the victims.

At about 1:45 p.m. local time, firefighters dispatched to a report of a dog bite arrived to find an elderly man “being dragged by a dog,” San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood told reporters.

“They could see him completely bloodied before they got off the fire truck,” Hood said.  

Hood, who called the scene “horrific,” said the firefighters had to fend off multiple pit bulls with “pick-axes and pipe poles” just to reach the two victims, a man in his 80s and a woman. The attack occurred on a sidewalk, Hood said.

The man was given blood at the scene and then rushed to a hospital, where he died, Hood said. The woman was hospitalized in critical condition. Their names were not released. 

A fire captain was also bitten on the leg during the ordeal, and a fourth victim was taken to a hospital with a bite to the hand, Hood said.

Hood described the actions of the firefighters as “very heroic.”

“This is not something normal for us. We usually don’t show up and have to defend patients from animals or ourselves,” Hood said.

Shannon Sims, director of San Antonio Animal Care Services, said that three dogs were seized by animal control, all of whom were Staffordshire Terriers. At least two of those dogs were involved in the attack, Sims said. All three belong to the same property owners, who were questioned by officers at the scene.

He added that the investigation is in its “early stages,” and the owners could face “potential charges.”

Sims said the same dogs were involved in a “previous bite” incident in 2021 for which they were briefly impounded, but then eventually returned to their owners.