The blood-curdling screams of 14-year-old Brandon Marchetti could be heard repeatedly on the 9-1-1 tape as 12-year-old Carmen Scoppettuolo – Marchetti’s friend – told Marchetti to roll up in a ball to avoid the relentless attacks of two Rottweilers guarding a construction demolition yard behind Northgate Mall.
“Help is coming,” yelled Carmen in a crackly, high-pitched voice during the incident last Thursday.
“Tell him to cover his ears and his head and get in a fetal position,” instructed Calltaker Lauren O’Hara.
“He’s covering his ears and his head is all bloody,” said the boy while agonizing screams from the victim rang out in the background. “The dog is biting him bad, biting him on the arms, legs and side of the head. It’s two Rotts.”
“Is anybody with him?” asked the calltaker.
“No,” replied the boy.
“Are the dogs near his head?” asked the calltaker.
“Yes,” replied the boy.
“I want you to tell him to cover his ears and head, can you tell him that,” said the calltaker.
“Ok, cover your ears,” yelled the boy. “Help is on the way. Cover your head. He got his arm.”
That leads into another series of awful screams as the friend, Carmen, says, “Oh no. Can an ambulance come real quick?”
“They’re coming any minute, I promise you,” replied Calltaker O’Hara.
Just a bit after that public safety personnel rolled onto the scene, with firefighters from the Engine 3 in North Revere arriving just ahead of Revere Police officers.
Officers found Marchetti around 5:45 p.m. lying face down in the mud, unresponsive, inside the secure fencing of R.E. Traniello Equipment Company. Two Rottweiler guard dogs were on top of him, one mauling his head and another his leg.
Officer Michael Mullen apparently fired first on one of the dogs from the other side of the fence, hitting it in the rear end.
That’s when firefighters made good use of improvisational thinking by turning on a fire hose and letting it loose on the dogs, protecting the boy and driving the dogs away.
However, as they began spraying the hose, Mullen had already scaled the fence, cutting himself badly, and gone forward to rescue the boy as the dogs circled him.
“He just jumped over the fence before anyone knew it,” said Lt. Amy O’Hara. “He still had his firearm in his hand and he ran over to the kid, scooped him up and carried him over to a locked gate, which firefighters cut open. Obviously, the dogs were still running around and could have attacked Mullen too. There’s no doubt from people on the scene that Michael Mullen saved this boy’s life.”
Once through the fence, ambulance personnel took charge of the boy and rushed him to the hospital.
His injuries were critical, reportedly having parts of his skull exposed from the attack and his leg severely injured. So far, the young man has survived his injuries and has undergone surgery this week. He reportedly will have a great deal of plastic surgery necessary in the near future.
Fire Chief Gene Doherty praised his personnel for thinking quickly to use a fire hose to ward off the dog, who, despite being shot, continued to come after the Marchetti boy.
“It was funny they came up with that,” said Doherty. “That’s not something you can train for. I told them that it was good thinking on their part. The captain – who is 63 or so – said he thought of the riots in the 1960s and how they used a fire hose to push the people back. He just had that idea and ran with it and it was very effective. It didn’t endanger the kid and it pushed the dogs away.”
He also praised the actions of Calltaker O’Hara.
“Lauren did a great job keeping the kid on the line, keeping him calm and telling him what to do; thank God the kid had a cell phone,” said Doherty. “I’m not always in favor of young kids having cell phones, but without that 12-year-old having a cell phone to talk with Lauren, there probably would have been a death. Getting to a phone to call would have tripled the response time.”
Doherty said once the location was identified, the response time was just over four minutes.
Police officials praised the quick, brave actions of Officer Mullen. For the officer, the positive public spotlight is sort of a redemption after being a hair’s breath away from being fired just two years ago. Following a damaging report in the Boston television media showing Mullen at home routinely while on duty, superior officers in the department called for his termination.
However, he was given a second chance, and the Marchetti family couldn’t have been happier about that outcome.
Said Marchetti’s mother, Silvana Marchetti, in a statement, “I can’t thank Officer Mullen enough. If it wasn’t for my son’s friend and Officer Mullen, my baby would not be here today. I appreciate with all my heart what they did for him. They saved his life and reduced the amount of injuries that he could have sustained, if not (something) worse. I can’t thank you enough.”
Lt. O’Hara indicated it was a redemption for Officer Mullen.
“It really was redemption for him,” she said. “This was a situation needed action and he did it. Some people were surprised. Michael Mullen went over that fence without hesitation and scooped up the kid and saved him without a second thought.”
Mayor Dan Rizzo said the City is very concerned for the boy’s well being, and he also praised the work of Officer Mullen.
“Obviously our main concern is for the young boy’s future well-being,” said the mayor on Monday. “This was an horrific attack in what appears to be an awful accident. The dogs apparently were behind locked gates and used as guard dogs. Animals, domesticated or otherwise can be unpredictable, and in this case produced a brutally severe outcome. I am grateful and proud of Office Mike Mullen’s quick and deliberate response that in all honesty, saved that child’s life. Our continued thoughts and well wishes are with the entire family.”
The dogs, Sonny and Bella – who have long-guarded the demolition construction yard for Pines Road resident Ralph Traniello – were voluntarily put down after the incident.
“He’s a local guy and lives in the Pines,” said Doherty. “I’ve seen him walking the dogs up there because I live nearby. They always seemed pretty docile and people pet them. I guess he had them for quite some time. This time, they were in their environment where they’re supposed to be protecting the yard. This kid climbed over the fence and thought he would play with the dogs.”
Apparently, though, playing with the dogs was nothing new.
On the 9-1-1 tape, Carmen is heard saying, “They were really nice and then not any more…We went behind Northgate to pet them. We went over to pet them.”
Carmen told the Boston Herald last weekend that he and Marchetti had been going over to the yard since last summer to pet the dogs through the fence. He said that they would walk to McDonald’s for burgers from the Marchetti’s Patriots Parkway home, and afterward they would always go back and visit the dogs – dogs he believed were very friendly and always eager to see them.
Last Thursday, however, Marchetti decided to climb over the fence to get closer. After going into the yard and doing something with his cell phone, the formerly friendly dogs went into attack mode.
Some have postulated that he might have gone in the yard on another occasion without incident.
Doherty added that all guard dogs are, by state law, supposed to be reported to the Fire Department. That was not done in this case.
“Technically, there is specific language in state law saying that whoever keeps guard dogs has to report them to the local Fire Prevention office,” he said. “I can say they didn’t do that. The only person who has done that is Rent-A-Tool, and they’ve done that for years.”
On Monday, East Boston Savings Bank announced they have established a fund to benefit the Marchetti family. Silvana Marchetti is a long-time EBSB employee at the Winthrop branch office.
Donations can be dropped off at any EBSB branch office during business hours. Or, donations can also be mailed to The Silvana Marchetti, Brandon Marchetti Fund, c/o East Boston Savings Bank-Revere Branch, 10 Meridian Street, East Boston, MA 02128.
All checks should be made payable to the Brandon Marchetti Fund.
Marchetti is a seventh-grader at the Susan B. Anthony School.
Public safety officials who are scheduled for public commendation for their actions are Officer Mullen, Calltaker O’Hara, Fire Capt. Dave Rossetti, Firefighter Chris Mirasolo and Firefighter Mike O’Hara.