Cop, former paramedic wrestles coyote to save kid attacked at playground

Officer Arcangelo Liberatore had just finished a run when he saw a "mass of fur and bodies" and jumped into action to save the 5-year-old girl

By Graham Rayman
New York Daily News 

MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. — An off-duty cop meeting his wife and kids at a Westchester County playground foiled a terrifying coyote attack on a little girl.

Irvington Officer Arcangelo Liberatore had just finished a run and was at the park in Thornwood with his wife, 4-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son Sunday at about 4:40 p.m., when he saw the coyote climb through a fence into the playground.

“It started getting into a trot, and my wife grabbed our daughter and I grabbed our son and ran toward the car,” Liberatore told the Daily News.

“I looked over my shoulder and told my kids to run toward mommy. I saw a woman on the ground and a mass of fur and bodies.”

The woman’s 5-year-old daughter had been bitten on the arm.

“I’m telling you it was like a cheetah,” the girl’s mom, Kasey King-Petrellese, told WNBC. “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. When he got up, he swung over to my daughter’s side and bit her arm.”

Liberatore, a six-year veteran with martial arts training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, jumped on the coyote and tried to strangle it.

“I slammed its head to the ground a couple of times. I was trying to eliminate it,” he said.

Someone called 911 and Mount Pleasant Officer Jonathan Kramel arrived to find Liberatore sitting on the 30-pound animal, Chief Paul Oliva said.

“Our officer told him to get off it and run toward him and he was going to shoot this thing,” Oliva said.

Kramel killed the coyote with a bullet to the head, and its body was taken for rabies testing.


The girl had a 1- to 2-inch cut on one arm. She was not admitted to a hospital, Oliva said.

“Credit to this officer (Liberatore) for stepping in because the injuries would have been much worse,” he said.

Liberatore said he had been jogging prior to the attack because he has a fitness test next week for his other role — as a member of the Air National Guard.

Added Liberatore, “When I ran over, I expected the worst. It feels great that everyone will be OK.”

King-Petrellese thanked him in the ambulance, he said.

It turned out their kids go to the same school, and Liberatore previously worked as a paramedic with King-Petrellese’s husband.

Oliva said coyotes seem more common in the area than a decade ago.

“It’s more than I ever saw,” he said. “We have a lot of reservoir property. We’ve had a dog here or there taken, but never had a person attacked. The behavior is sort of consistent with an animal that might have rabies.”

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