As Angela Robinson stood behind the newly installed headstone of her son’s grave at the Killeen City Cemetery on Friday afternoon, its glossy surface stood out, gleaming against the bright blue of the near-cloudless sky.
“Raymane Camari Robinson Jr., March 20, 2011 - March 1, 2014,” it reads. “We asked God for a baby instead he blessed us with an angel.”
“It’s a beautiful stone,” said Robinson, 31, of Killeen. “Just in time for Easter.”
She described her son as a precocious toddler who always had a smile on his face.
“When you met him, you couldn’t help but fall in love,” she said.
Robinson’s only son, known to family and friends as Camari, was killed March 1 after being attacked by a bull mastiff in a Killeen neighborhood.
Seven weeks later, Robinson visits the grave every day. On March 20 — what would have been Camari’s third birthday — Angela and her husband, Raymane Lavar Robinson Sr., left a piece of cake on the grave and sang “Happy Birthday.” She regularly cleans the toy cars that sit beside the stone.
In the aftermath of her son’s death, Angela Robinson is putting her passion into raising awareness about dog attacks.
“I just want to prevent this from happening to someone else, whether it is an injury or a fatality,” she said.
On Friday, Robinson announced the creation of a website, noviciousdogs.com, as part of her campaign. The website launched today along with a Facebook page with the same name. Her goal is to raise awareness about dog attacks and push for stricter laws that hold owners responsible.
It’s a goal that Robinson said she won’t “give up” as she remembers her son day after day.
Robinson said she goes into her son’s untouched room twice a day — to say good morning and good night.
“Camari’s life was short, but it was happy,” she said. “He had a really good life.”
That life began after a long wait, Robinson said, beginning when she and her husband married and moved to Killeen in 2003. With Raymane Robinson serving in the military, and the U.S. involved in two wars, the high school sweethearts from South Carolina questioned the idea of having children.
Eventually, though, the Robinsons decided to start a family.
It took them nearly eight years to conceive, Angela Robinson said.
“I often call Camari my miracle baby, because we were under the impression that we wouldn’t be able to have kids.”
The Robinsons were in San Antonio for the weekend to celebrate Angela’s birthday when the attack occurred.
On March 1, a phone call from close friends who were caring for Camari sent them on a terrifying 90-minute drive from San Antonio to Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood.
“I was praying,” she said. “We could never imagine losing a child. ... I just prayed for the best for him.”
By the time they got there, Camari already died from his injuries — severe wounds to the neck and face after being dragged by the dog.
“I had the opportunity to hold him for the last time, and my husband did as well,” she said. “That was a scene that I don’t think we could ever, you know, get past.”
In the days that followed, the Robinsons learned more from police about the attack that killed their son. Camari was walking in a neighborhood near Iduma Elementary School with an 18-year-old man and his 8-year-old sister, both members of the family watching Camari for the weekend. As they walked, a woman, later identified as the dog owner’s mother-in-law, was moving the mastiff and another dog from the backyard to the garage of a home on Pennington Drive.
The mastiff broke free and attacked the girl. Her brother fought the dog off, then it turned toward Camari, biting the boy’s face and dragging him down the street.
The attack ended when a bystander attempted to shoot the dog. The gunfire scared it away.
Camari and the girl were taken to the hospital. The dog was taken by animal control officers and later euthanized.
Lack of evidence
Coping with the loss of Camari, the Robinsons hoped the investigation would end with criminal charges against the dog’s owner.
Since the owner wasn’t home and the dog had no prior history of attacks or aggression, Killeen police and Bell County prosecutors told the grieving parents earlier this month charges would not be filed.
“They told us that it would basically have to be a civil case,” Angela Robinson said. “That basically there wasn’t enough evidence for it to be criminal negligence.”
An open records request from the Herald to the city of Killeen’s Municipal Court revealed the 66-year-old woman who was moving the dogs received a misdemeanor citation for “animal at large” and was fined $164.
The situation left the Robinsons unsatisfied and angry. They are considering a civil suit against the dog owner.
Camari was no. 10
Adjusting to life without Camari, Robinson said she began following stories of dog attacks in the news.
A Killeen child was injured Feb. 12 and a 2-year-old Temple girl was killed Feb. 17 in dog attacks. Last week, three pit bulls attacked two children and an adult in Killeen.
According to the Department of State Health Services, 36 deaths were caused by dog bites between 2003 and 2012 in Texas.
Robinson said 16 people were killed in dog attacks nationwide this year.
“Camari was No. 10, and we’re only in April,” she said.
She is now working on ways to prevent dog attacks.
“I’m not here, really, to point any fingers or anything,” she said. “What I really want to do is bring awareness in the community.”
Robinson said she wants owners to be more educated about animals before they get one. Also, owners should take special precautions, such as muzzling the dog when walking in a park or neighborhood.
She also said dog owners should register their animals, so they can be more easily identified and held responsible if there’s an attack.
“I don’t think that any child or an adult should be confined to a house because they are afraid to go outside because of these dogs,” she said.
Making such changes likely will not come easy. Texas forbids any city to pass breed specific dog legislation.
“We’ve discussed this over and over again for many years,” Killeen Mayor Dan Corbin said. “The most we can legally do is what we are doing right now, and that’s have a vicious dog ordinance.
“Every time something like this comes up I cringe because there is nothing we can do about it under the present law.”
Despite the challenges she faces, Robinson said she is still hopeful change will come. “I have to keep going,” she said. “I can’t give up.”
Herald staff writers Mason Canales and Natalie Stewart contributed to this report.