Amiyah Dunston, identified Monday as the 9-year-old girl killed by a pit bull, was a Plaza Elementary School student who went by the nickname Mi-Mi, played the violin and painted.

"Amiyah Kayla was a phenomenal little girl who has touched many lives with her presence, smiles and laughs," her mother's fiance said, reading from a statement.

She was attacked Sunday during a playdate in the backyard of an Elmont house and died hours later. The dog was owned by Carlyle Arnold Jr., 29. Authorities said Monday it would be difficult to bring criminal charges because it did not appear the dog had previously been ruled dangerous.

Acting Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas said Monday investigators are interviewing neighbors and others who may have had contact with the dog.

"The dog was never deemed a dangerous animal, which would enable us more freely to bring charges," Singas said. "There's no indication that this dog was trained as a fighter. But again, that's part of the investigation."

Arnold was arrested after the attack on a charge of violating an unrelated stay-away order, police said.

At his arraignment Monday, his bail was set at $10,000 cash or bond.

Amiyah's death could be the first known fatal attack by a pit bull on Long Island. A search of Newsday archives dating to the 1940s found no similar deaths.

Meanwhile, heartbroken relatives Monday spoke lovingly of Amiyah.

Ana Dailey, Amiyah's maternal grandmother, shed tears at the door of the Baldwin home where Amiyah lived with her mother, her mom's fiance and her 5-year-old brother.

Dailey called the young girl "very beautiful, always reading, painting, playing the violin at the school."

Brian Willis, the fiance of Amiyah's mother, Mayra Castillo, reading from the statement, also said, "We thank you for all your support and prayers. Please let us mourn our terrible, tragic loss."

Baldwin schools Superintendent Shari L. Camhi said in a statement the district extended its "deepest sympathies" to Amiyah's family and grief counseling would be offered at Amiyah's school.

On Sunday, Nassau police and neighbors described a harrowing scene as attempts to free the girl from the dog's clenched jaws failed and her two friends ran into the front of the house on Holland Avenue screaming for help.

Acting Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter said Monday that responding officers did "everything they could in order to get to the child" before the dog charged at an officer and that officer shot the animal, killing it.

"They were truly heroic in their actions and it was great police work. Unfortunately . . . they got there too late," Krumpter said.

With Bridget Murphy

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