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Pit bulls maul Southern California woman

LOS ANGELES - A 63-year-old woman was fatally mauled by a pack of pit bulls while walking near her home in Southern California on Thursday and police were searching for the four dogs, law enforcement officials said.

A driver called police Thursday morning to report that four dogs were mauling the woman by the side of a road in a remote high desert area near Palmdale, California, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Captain Mike Parker said.

When a sheriff's deputy arrived on the scene a few minutes later, he found the woman being attacked by one dog, which circled and moved aggressively toward him as he approached, Parker said.

The deputy fired twice at the animal before it ran into the desert. There was no sign of the other three dogs, Parker said.

The victim, who was not immediately identified, died in an ambulance while being taken to a hospital, said Los Angeles County Care and Control spokeswoman Evelina Villa.

Authorities were searching for the tan-colored dogs and issued warnings to residents of Palmdale, about 65 miles east of Los Angeles.

"Sheriffs deputies are knocking on doors in the neighborhood, patrolling and warning people in the area, but we have not picked up any leads since the deputy fired the shots," Parker said.

Homicide detectives were on the scene and Parker said the dog's owners could face charges.

Members of the woman's family had told police that she walked daily in her neighborhood, he said.