Owner of pit bull killed in Central Park during fight between dog walkers said attacker tried to stab him, too

NEW YORK — The owner of a pit bull stabbed to death in Central Park during a fight between dog walkers said the canine killer tried to knife him, too.

Brian Cornwell, 52, said the rival dog owner threatened him during the clash when all he was trying to do was protect his own pets.

The 52-year-old owner and his 43-year-old wife were walking his elderly dogs, Eli, a pit bull German Shepherd mix, and, Sadie, a miniature pinscher, when the stabber’s three pit bulls snapped at Sadie at about 8:30 p.m. Saturday, cops said.

That prompted an argument during which the attacker plunged a switchblade into Eli, killing the dog.

“He was trying to hit me while I was getting his dogs off my dog,” Cornwell said. “All of a sudden, his dogs are all tangled in my dog’s collar. I kicked his dog off a few times and he ran right back.”

Cornwell said the attacker was as relentless as his dogs.

“He was threatening me, saying I’m not from this neighborhood,” Cornwall recounted. “I’m trying to protect my dog and this guy’s trying to stab me, too. I unloaded a whole can of pepper spray on (the man) and it didn’t affect him.”

The dogs wouldn’t let up, either.

“They didn’t let go. They weren’t letting go of my dog,” Cornwell said “There were bites on my dog’s neck. It really bothered me to see that. How could you train your dog to do that?”

After the clash, an angry Cornwell followed the pooch’s killer, recording him on his cellphone and cursing him out.

“You better not show your face,” the owner yelled as the stabber headed north on Fifth Ave. with his three dogs, cellphone video obtained by ABC7 New York Eyewitness News shows. “You killed my dog, you piece of s---!”

Cornwell said police sped them from the park to Veterinary Emergency Group.

“I carried him to the police car and I carried him to the vet,” Cornwell said. “My little dog is 17. She doesn’t know what’s going on,” he said. “She knows my dog is gone, she knows that something is going on.”

Cornwell said Eli was rescued from the Animal Care Centers of NYC in Harlem when the pooch was 2 years old.

“He’s a sweet dog. If someone gave him a treat, he was so gentle,” Cornwell said. “I gave him a lot of love.”

The spot where Eli was stabbed is the first place Cornwell took him for a walk after he adopted him.

“I took him right from the shelter and took him to that spot,” said the grieving owner. “It happened in one of the best parks in the world. Why isn’t there security in Central Park? There’s so much money.

“We need them there now. I probably won’t ever go in that area again, and I’ve used that park for 20 years.”

Cornwell hopes the park community helps cops catch the dog killer.

“I think they’re going to find him,” he said. “I have a lot of people who love me and love my dogs and I hope they stand up.”