An off-duty police officer was hailed a hero Sunday after he jumped on a coyote and strangled it as the animal attacked a girl on a New York playground, leaving her with an arm bite.
Kasey King-Petrellese, the girl’s mother, told NBC New York that the coyote appeared out of nowhere and sprinted “like a cheetah” toward 5-year-old Natalia and her 3-year-old brother in Thornwood.
The animal gained on them as they ran for their car, first attacking the boy.
“I took my foot and I kicked him as hard as I could in his face, which knocked him to the ground and he stumbled a little. And when he got up he swung over to my daughter’s side and bit her arm,” King-Petrellese said.
Natalia said the animal made her “bleed on the arm.”
Luckily, off-duty Irvington police Officer Arcangelo Liberatore spotted the coyote lurking nearby. He and his wife were helping their own children into their car when they heard screaming and went back to help, according to the Journal News.
Liberatore jumped on the coyote, clutched its neck and slammed its head on the ground.
“I just sat and tried to squeeze the life out of it,” Liberatore told NBC New York. “But it was pretty resilient.”
Mount Pleasant police shot and killed the animal and its remains were sent to the Westchester County Health Department for testing.
King-Petrellese, her two children, and Liberatore all received rabies shots at a hospital, according to NBC New York. Natalia also needed to be stitched up and she received antibiotics.
Liberatore had a bandage on his arm Monday, according to the Journal News.
“I was telling my wife, I’m just wired differently than most people, I think,” he said. “I run toward danger.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.