One day after a tiger roaming a West Houston neighborhood became national news, the man who fled with the tiger not only evaded arrest … but was out on bond in connection to a 2017 murder.
28-year-old Victor Hugo Cuevas was arrested at his parent’s house in Richmond on Monday (May 10) and was charged with felony evading arrest after fleeing the scene with the tiger in a Jeep Cherokee. Police began pursuit of the vehicle but eventually lost him.
Cuevas had initially intended to turn himself in according to his lawyer but HPD had other ideas and arrested him instead.
“All they want to do is lock people up and presume them to be guilty, and let them try to figure it out later. It’s terrible,” Cuevas’ lawyer Michael Elliott said, adding Cuevas has been implicated in a trove of assumptions that are not true. “Because my client was the one who caught this tiger, who went out and got it, brought it back to safety, everyone is just assuming that he’s the owner of the tiger and that it’s his tiger.”
The actual whereabouts of the tiger are unknown after it was discovered Sunday (May 9) near Fleetwood on Ivy Wall Drive. A deputy who lives in the neighborhood was alerted by neighbors and raised his service weapon at the animal before Cuevas left a nearby home yelling “Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!” and escorted the tiger away.
“He came up to the tiger himself and leaned down and kissed the tiger, and then took him by his collar,” a neighbor told KPRC2.
By Cuevas taking the tiger away, many assumed the pet belonged to him. However, the man is working with authorities to find the tiger’s true owner. He was out on $125,000 bond following a murder charge in Fort Bend County in 2017. Authorities said he allegedly shot a man outside of a Buffalo Wild Wings on the Grand Parkway.
Texas has no statewide law forbidding individuals to own big cats but in Houston, the practice is illegal.
“Private citizens and emergency responders should not have to come face to face with a lion or a tiger in a crisis,” Wayne Pacelle, the president of Animal Wellness Action said. “These animals belong in the wild or in reputable sanctuaries or zoos and nowhere else. This epidemic of private ownership of these exotic animals must be put to a swift end before more animals die and more people are injured or killed.”