A man who police said fled with a tiger after that was spotted on a Houston lawn and led officers on a chase was arrested Monday evening.
The whereabouts of the tiger, which was seen outside a home Sunday, were not known Monday night, Houston police tweeted.
Earlier Monday, police Commander Ron Borza said that when police responded to reports about the animal, its owner “put the tiger in a white SUV and drove off.”
“There was a brief pursuit, and the man got away with the tiger,” Borza said then.
Victor Hugo Cuevas, 26, was charged with felony evading arrest, and Monday night police said he was in custody.
He was arrested at his parents’ house in Richmond and had planned to surrender, his attorney, Michael Elliott, told NBC affiliate KPRC of Houston.
He told NBC News that Cuevas is not the owner of the tiger but may know who is and was working to help authorities find the animal. He said Cuevas does not own a white SUV and did not evade police.
“They’re trying to connect the dots and say that because he’s the one who caught it, he must be the one who owns it and who is responsible for it,” Elliott said.
“Everybody wants to find the tiger. We want to find the tiger, we want to help,” the attorney said.
Cuevas is free on bond in a murder case filed in 2017 in neighboring Fort Bend County. Elliott said the incident was a shooting outside a restaurant and that Cuevas was acting in self-defense.
There have been no injuries related to the tiger reported. It is against city ordinance to have a tiger in Houston, which is a misdemeanor, Borza said.
After the tiger was spotted in the neighborhood Sunday, an off-duty sheriff’s deputy confronted the owner who took the animal and led back it inside the house, Borza said.
Video published by KPRC showed the deputy with his gun, and a man taking the tiger inside.
A neighbor told the station that the man said to not shoot the tiger, which was his, and that he kissed the tiger on the head and led it inside by its collar.
“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,” Borza said earlier Monday.
He said in addition to possible danger to people, if the tiger got loose it could be harmed, such as being shot.
“We don’t want to see that. It’s not the animal’s fault, it’s the breeder’s fault,” he said. “It’s unacceptable, it shouldn’t be happening at all.”
It is not the first time someone has kept a tiger in Houston.
In 2019, someone who went into an abandoned home to smoke marijuana found a caged tiger in a garage.