Police have arrested the man who was allegedly last seen loading a tiger in an SUV and driving away from a Houston residential neighborhood, but the big cat is still at large.
In what might be considered a plot twist, it turns out that the subject was out on bond for a 2017 murder charge.
Authorities have revoked that bond, and he reportedly faces a new charge of felony evading arrest. A brief police pursuit allegedly ensued on Sunday evening before he got away.
The man’s lawyer claims that the subject, Victor Hugo Cuevas, 26, had, however, made arrangements to voluntarily surrender, but local cops supposedly went back on their word and took him into custody. He is due back in court on Friday.
Cuevas was reportedly arrested at a home in Fort Bend County in the Houston area, and he is currently detained at the Fort Bend County jail.
Authorities are requesting the public’s help in tracking down the animal.
UPDATE #2: Victor Hugo Cuevas is in custody. The whereabouts of the tiger are not yet known.
— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) May 11, 2021
His attorney has admitted that Cuevas is the man seen on video leading the tiger back into a west Houston home by the collar, but denied that his client is the owner.
Attorney Michael Elliott lamented a rush to judgment in the case, KHOU reported.
“They’re also assuming that my client is the one that put this tiger in some vehicle and took it away, and maybe did something nefarious with it. And my client is not the owner of the tiger, he’s not guilty of any crimes, he hasn’t done anything wrong, and he’s already been ‘convicted’.”
Watch an update on the story from KHOU embedded below:
“I don’t know who drove away with the tiger, I don’t know who has the tiger, but we did have information that would be helpful,” the barrister added.
In a story that made national headlines, neighbors in the otherwise quiet Houston residential area that is filled with young children and (normal) pets were shocked to see a tiger roaming around a front yard on Mother’s Day evening.
— Grumpy CULT 45 (@443777) May 10, 2021
On widely shared videos (warning for language), off-duty Waller County sheriff’s Deputy Wes Manion, who was armed, ordered the man in no uncertain terms to get back into the house.
“Last thing I wanted to do was shoot the tiger. It didn’t seem super-aggressive,” the deputy said later.
Apparently there's a tiger loose on my parents' West Houston street? pic.twitter.com/TgdIiPSPKx
— robwormald (@robwormald) May 10, 2021
The missing tiger’s name is India and is about nine months old.
Dangerous exotic animals, which also include lions, cougars, jaguars, and hyenas, are illegal within the Houston city limits but are legal in nearby Harris County and elsewhere in Texas, provided an owner complies with various regulations, plus insurance.
“We have plenty of places we can take that tiger and keep it safe and give it a home for the rest of his life,” HPD Commander Ron Borza told NBC News.
In a CNN interview, Carole Baskin of Netflix Tiger King fame brought politics, among other things, into the discussion by claiming that Texas’ two GOP U.S. senators, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, are somehow responsible for this situation, an allegation that probably made the liberal “New Day” anchors happy.
“I really hope that Senators Cruz and Cornyn will sign onto the Big Cat Public Safety Act, because if they had, last year when the House passed this bill — the Senate didn’t bring it up for a vote — if it had passed last year, this wouldn’t have happened this time…”
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