A tiger that was seen roaming loose in a Houston area neighborhood over the weekend has yet to be located - but its owner has been identified and arrested.
The exotic animal reportedly belongs to a man named Victor Cuevas, who was out of jail on bond on an "unrelated murder charge", according to local ABC affiliates. "Cuevas is accused of shooting and killing a man in July 2017 and is out on a $125,000 bond," the report reads.
Cuevas "is known to possess several exotic animals", the report reads. Authorities took Cuevas into custody at his mother's house on Monday, the same day he was supposed to turn himself in to the Harris County jail. Cuevas evaded police on Sunday and was also charged with felony evading arrest, as a result.
Cuevas' lawyer, Michael Elliot, wasn't thrilled about his client being apprehended on the same day he was supposedly planning to turn himself in. Elliot said: "Fifteen minutes before he leaves to surrender, (HPD) go and arrest him, and the result is they get to keep him there for 10 days now."
Paying adage to the famous "I was just holding it for a friend" defense, Elliot also maintains that the tiger doesn't belong to Cuevas, but rather that he simply "knows the owner".
"There's a lot of misunderstandings and miscommunications and a lot of things put out there falsely that's very troubling. First off, The Houston Police Department here. I know they're trying to do their job. Everyone wants to know about the tiger and their safety. Make no mistake, there's no crime of having a tiger in the state of Texas," he said.
However, ABC reviewed Cuevas' Instagram and found he was "no stranger" to exotic animals:
The videos show him playing with a baby bear, feeding it with a bottle, and giving the bear kisses in his home. There are also videos of at least two monkeys. Cuevas is seen taking one monkey with him while he was having dental work done, and taking another monkey to a convenience store, where the clerk was not pleased. In addition, several videos show Cuevas cuddling with a young tiger.
Police had responded to a call about the tiger on Sunday. HPD Commander Ron Borza said: "The owner put the tiger in a white SUV and drove off from the scene, there was a brief pursuit, and the man got away with the tiger. My main concern right now is focused on finding him, and finding the tiger, because what I don't want him to do is harm the tiger. We have plenty of places where we can take the tiger and he can spend the rest of his life."
Our Animal Cruelty Unit, along with @BARC_Houston are currently investigating the incident in which a tiger was seen at 1103 Ivy Wall Drive about 8 p.m. on Sunday (May 9). The male owner was seen escorting the tiger to the residence then putting it into his vehicle. 1/3— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) May 10, 2021
Cuevas' neighbor, Jose Ramos, said: "I did notice one time, and this is something interesting, that I was walking by my driveway. There was a capuchin monkey that showed up in the window. I figured, 'OK, this is a small animal. It could be domesticated.' But I never thought they would hold a tiger in their house."