The owner of an escaped pet tiger which was filmed roaming through a Houston neighborhood on Sunday night has been identified as a 26-year-old who is facing separate charges for a first-degree murder he had committed earlier. Police in Houston arrested Victor Hugo Cuevas on Monday, who is accused of fleeing from police with his pet tiger.
Cuevas was identified after he was allegedly caught on camera with a Bengal tiger outside of his home. Neighbors first noticed the tiger roaming around a front yard on Sunday. Police nabbed Cuevas after a long search although the tiger remains on the loose, police said.
Cuevas, who was arrested on Monday night, is on bail awaiting trial for the 2017 murder of a man outside the Bella Terra shopping mall in Richmond, west of Houston, according to ABC7.com. However, before that he had evaded arrest and was facing charges for leading cops on a chase on Sunday when they tried to question him about his oversized, furry companion, the Houston Police Department wrote in a tweet around Monday afternoon local time.
However, he was finally arrested after a long chase. The tiger, however, is still on the loose. In a 54-second clip posted to social media, terrified residents filmed the Bengal tiger roaming freely around the quiet suburban neighborhood. In the video, an off duty Waller County Sheriff's deputy who lives in the neighborhood is seen pointing his gun at the tiger as it stalks towards him.
However, the deputy soon backs up a few paces as the tiger gets within a few feet of where he is standing. Moments later the owner of the tiger, which was confirmed by police to be Cuevas, is seen dragging the tiger back inside a house. Later, he fled the scene and despite police chasing him, the lost sight.
Video footage, posted online on Sunday evening, shows several pickup trucks and other vehicles appear to be trying to block the tiger in to prevent it from escaping. "There is a freaking Bengal tiger roaming in this yard and this dude needs to be careful," a woman is heard saying on the video.
"What the heck? Why is there a tiger?"
An eyewitness capturing the footage, Maria Torres, can be heard shouting: "It has a collar. It is somebody's pet." The person capturing the footage, which has been viewed nearly 750,000 times by Monday morning, makes a run for it when the tiger gets too close.
That said, Cuevas has quite a dark past, as he is facing charged for a murder also. He was reportedly arrested in July 28, 2017 in connection with the murder of Oseikhuemen Omobhude, 20, who was shot in the parking lot of the popular Sushi Hana restaurant a few days ago.
According to reports, Omobhude was approached by two men on motorcycles and shot several times in his car. He was able to drive a few hundred yards to seek help at a nearby Buffalo Wings Restaurant. However, he later died at Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital.
He was arrested after police received an anonymous tip and held on a $750,000 bond in the Fort Bend County Jail before being released. He was charged with first-degree murder in 2020 and is currently out on bail, according to ABC7.com reported.
After Cuevas was taken into custody on Monday night, his lawyer said that Cuevas is not the owner of the tiger, CBS affiliate KHOU-TV reported.
"HPD was in such a hurry to wrap it and find their guy that they just assumed because my client was the one who caught this tiger, who went out and go it and brought it back into safety, everyone is just assuming that he is the owner of the tiger," his attorney Michael Elliott said, adding, "He's already been convicted, which is a shame."
Elliott also claimed he and Cuevas had an agreement with the Houston Police Department that Cuevas would surrender himself at 8:15 pm on Monday, but that HPD instead arrested him 15 minutes prior, according to KHOU.