Apparently they had gone outside to play and the boy, identified as Omar Martinez, left one of his toys inside the home. The father went back inside the home for only moments to get the toy, but when he returned, his son was lying on the ground and had already stopped breathing.
"This is a tragic, tragic incident that's occurred, especially with the family pet," said Arden Wiltshire of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.
Sheriff's deputies said the dog was so aggressive toward paramedics that they could not even move in to help the child. Paramedics retreated to their vehicles and had to wait until deputies arrived. A deputy shot and killed the dog because it was reportedly out of control.
The boy was rushed to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
"I feel so sad for them because I know them, and I know they love him very much," said Isabel Palacios, a family friend.
Palacios described the victim as a boy who was always smiling.
"Everybody loved him 'cause he's the only grandson they have," she said.
Officials have not said whether the dog was a mix or a pure-bred pit bull. The Sheriff's Department is investigating the incident.