January 6, 2013

Two people transported to Modesto after a fight at an apartment complex

A man was arrested Sunday after three pit bulls were turned loose on a woman and a hammer was used in an attack on a man trying to help her during a fight in Merced on Sunday morning, police reported.

The 44-year-old male victim, and the 47-year-old female victim, were taken to trauma centers in the Modesto area for treatment of injuries sustained in the fight at an apartment complex on West 16th Street, according to police.

Officers responded to the incident in the 100 block of West 16th Street about 7:40 a.m., said Sgt. Alan Ward.

The man had wounds to the head and torso after being struck in the back of the head with a hammer.

The woman had suffered numerous dog bites on her head and extremities, Ward said.

Merced resident John Whittington, 44, was arrested and booked at the Merced County Jail on suspicion of aggravated assault and making terrorist threats, Ward said, explaining that Whittington was threatening to kill the man and the woman while he was assaulting them.

The two victims told police they were spending the night at Whittington's studio apartment, Ward said.

An argument broke out Sunday morning after the victims accused Whittington or a friend of his who had been at the apartment Saturday evening of stealing an EBT card.

Whittington sent three pit bulls after the female victim, Ward said, and then struck the man on the back of the head with a hammer while he was trying to help the woman fight off the three pit bulls.

Both victims were transported to Modesto by ambulance, Ward said.

The three pit bulls were taken to the Merced County Animal Shelter, where they will be quarantined, Ward said.

Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (209) 385-2482 or yamaro@mercedsunstar.com.

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