Police in an upscale Texas neighborhood searched Tuesday for a fugitive Bengal tiger that was seen roaming on lawns and streets until its apparent owner fled with the animal.
That man, who already had legal troubles, was arrested Monday night for felony evasion of arrest after loading the tiger into a car and driving away, just as police arrived at his home in Houston.
But there was no sign of the big cat.
“The tiger portion of the investigation is continuing,” Houston police tweeted after the arrest of 26 year old Victor Hugo Cuevas, whose lawyer insisted the tiger does not belong to Cuevas.
News accounts said the cat lived in a house rented by Cuevas.
The drama began Sunday evening when the tiger was seen walking calmly across front lawns in a neighborhood in west Houston.
“I mean, I couldn’t believe it,” neighbor Jose Ramos told local television station KPRC. He took a picture, posted it on a neighborhood blog with a warning for people to stay away, and called an emergency police number.
“It was very scary because this is a very family-oriented community, and you see lots of kids and (babies) strolling,” Ramos said.
Wes Manion, an off-duty sheriff’s deputy who lives in the area, saw the post, raced to the scene and confronted the cat with a revolver in footage filmed by neighbours.
“Last thing I wanted to do was shoot the tiger,” Manion told another TV station, KHOU. “It didn’t seem super aggressive.”
Cuevas was known to police because he was free on bond awaiting a murder trial.
On Twitter, people feasted on news of the missing feline.
“Are you conducting a meownhunt? Is pawrole on the table?” wrote @CooperEarlJones.
“There must be some claws in the statute that says this is allowed,” quipped @EssBee44.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)