Police say this pit bull attacked and killed a West Virginia man as he attempted to help the dog’s owner. (Courtesy of the Wheeling Intelligencer)

Police in West Virginia say a pit bull attacked and killed a man who was trying to assist the dog’s dying owner.

Roy A. Higginbotham Jr., 62, was trying to revive his roommate, David Wallace Jr., after the 63-year-old suffered a heart attack Sunday at their home in Wheeling, police officials said.

Higginbotham gave his friend a few slaps to the face, authorities said, prompting Wallace’s pit bull to attack.

By the time police officers arrived, they found a woman, who was in the room at the time of the attack, hiding from the dog on the roof of the home. Higginbotham, police said, was screaming for help as the dog bit his arm and leg.

“After kicking in the door, officers went to an upstairs bedroom where they observed the victim on the floor of the bedroom being attacked by a white and brown pit bull with blood all over its face,” Deputy Police Chief Martin Kimball told The Washington Post. “The dog came towards officers in an aggressive manner and then hid in a corner of the room.”

The two men were transported to a local hospital, where both were pronounced dead, according to police.

“When the firefighter brought the young female down from the roof, she was very shaken up,” a witness told CBS affiliate KDKA.

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Ohio County Animal Control officers removed the dog from the home and placed it in quarantine while police continued their investigation, according to the Wheeling Intelligencer.

Police think Sunday’s incident may not have been the first time the dog attacked.

“We believe this same dog may have attacked another pedestrian several weeks ago on the street,” Kimball told The Post. “We do have an ordinance, and we do enforce it.”

Under the city ordinance, pit bulls are among several breeds classified as “vicious,” according to police. Owners of “vicious” dogs are required to take out a $100,000 liability insurance policy and keep the dog muzzled and properly confined, according to police. The dog that killed Higginbotham was not registered, police said.

“It is highly unusual for pit bulls to actually carry out a fatal attack in our jurisdiction, although we do have a number of pit bulls in that area,” Kimball said. “If you have a dog that has a propensity for violence, you have to maintain control of the dog for yourself and other citizens.”

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