Man Whose Escaped Pet Tiger Roaming Houston Is Out on Bond For Murder, Police Say

Police are searching for the owner of a tiger who escaped with the big cat after it was seen wandering a Houston neighborhood late Sunday night.

The owner, whose name has not been released, was arrested for a November 2020 murder in Fort Bend County, Texas, and was released on bond, according to local law enforcement. After gaining attention from the sighting of his exotic pet, the suspect loaded the Bengal tiger into his car and drove off.

Neighbor Jose Ramos, who told KHOU-TV he was the first to spot the tiger, saw it lying outside in the grass across the street from his house around 8 p.m Sunday. He then alerted his neighbors through an online posting and called 911.

This is Jose Ramos — he’s the neighbor who FIRST spotted the tiger across the street from his house in a yard — called 911, snapped a pic of the big cat CAREFULLY, and then alerted his neighbors by posting on neighborhood blog. @KHOU #Htownrush pic.twitter.com/ewMHQ0A2qs

— Michelle Choi (@MichelleKHOU) May 10, 2021

"It was very scary because this is a very family-oriented community, and you see lots of kids and baby strolling," Ramos said to KHOU-TV. "And people taking their pets, dogs and walking them. So again, the first thing I thought was to alert the community so everybody would stay home."

An off-duty deputy, who saw the online posting, came to assist. He held the tiger at gunpoint, although it appeared to be non-aggressive. A man, suspected to be the owner, came outside yelling, "Don't shoot him! Don't shoot him!" The man then took the tiger inside, and before the police came to question him, loaded the tiger into his white Jeep Cherokee and drove off.

The unnamed man's bond will be revoked, authorities said, and he is now facing an evading arrest charge. But Houston Police Department Commander Ron Borza says the primary concern now is for the tiger.

"What I don't want him to do is harm the tiger," Borza said. "We have plenty of places where we could take that tiger and keep it safe and give it a home for the rest of its life... A lot of times, people get desperate and they do silly things."

tiger houston bond for murder
A man who owned an escaped tiger has driven away after police arrived to handle the animal. This photo shows a similar tiger, a Sumatran Tiger at Taronga Zoo on November 18, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. Mark Evans/Getty

This is the second time since 2019 that a tiger has been spotted in Houston, but exotic pets, especially tigers, are typically not kept without a special permit from the state of Texas.

The suspect's neighbors also reported that they thought they once saw a chimpanzee in the window of his house, but they were unaware of the tiger. The house the suspect was living in was a rental property, and the homeowner was also unaware. The homeowner informed KHOU-TV that the suspect never reported having any animals.

Borza asked anyone to report seeing the suspects. The unidentified man is 28 years old, 5'8, and about 130 pounds. Anyone with information should contact the HPD Major Offenders Division at 713-308-3100.

The vehicle has a paper plate, Borza said, and then added: "Obviously, if you see a Cherokee with a big tiger in it, it would be good to call us."

Newsweek reached out to the Houston Police Department for comment.