Victor Hugo Cuevas was arrested on Monday night after police swooped on his parents home in Houston, and was charged with felony evading arrest
Cuevas, 26, is the alleged ‘owner’ of Bengal tiger spotted roaming around a a home in a quiet West Houston neighborhood on Sunday
He ws filmed grabbing the tiger by the collar and dragging it inside the home, before putting it in a white jeep and fleeing, leading officers on a wild chase
The pet tiger remains at large – Cuevas’ lawyer claimed their client is not the owner of the animal, but they were assisting police in finding the big cat
Police believe Cuevas had kept the pet tiger at the Ivy Wall Drive home he had rented since late last year, in defiance of a citywide ban
Cuevas was out on bail, awaiting trial after being with charged first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Oseikhuemen ‘Ose’ Omobhude
Omobhude, a 20-year-old college student was shot in the parking lot of a popular sushi restaurant in Richmond on July 14, 2017
Although he is out on bond, the Fort Bend DA’s office said they will likely request a bond revocation hearing on the murder charges
The murder suspect and alleged owner of an escaped pet tiger, which was filmed roaming through a Houston neighborhood, has been arrested but the tiger is still at large.
Victor Hugo Cuevas, 26, was already facing separate charges for first-degree murder and is on bail awaiting trial.
He ditched police in a high-speed pursuit after he bundled his tiger into a white Jeep Cherokee and fled the scene on Sunday evening.
He was taken into custody on Monday night at his parents home near Richmond and was charged with felony evading arrest for fleeing from patrol officers, but the Bengal tiger is still on the loose after it was filmed wandering through Ivy Wall Drive in West Houston on Saturday night.
Cuevas is awaiting trial for the 2017 murder of a man outside the Bella Terra shopping mall in Richmond, west of Houston, ABC7.com reported. He is out on bond, but the Fort Bend District Attorney’s office said they will likely request a bond revocation hearing on the murder charges.
Cuevas was arrested on July 28, 2017, in connection with the murder of college student Oseikhuemen ‘Ose’ Omobhude, 20, who was shot in the parking lot of the popular Sushi Hana restaurant on July 14 that year.
University of Houston student, Ose 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, but later died at Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital.
The motive for the shooting is still unclear.
Cuevas was later released on bail as he awaits the murder trial.
On Sunday, a 54-second clip posted to social media, terrified residents filmed the big cat roaming freely around the quiet suburban neighborhood.
Houston PD major crimes division commander Ronald Borza said it appeared the animal had been well cared for, and was kept inside a house Cuevas had been renting since late 2020.
Cuevas’ lawyer Michael Elliott has denied the tiger belonged to his client, but said he could not confirm his connection to the animal.
A 54-second clip was posted to social media by terrified residents who filmed the big cat roaming freely around the quiet suburban neighborhood on Sunday
Carole Baskin, who shot to fame after the Netflix documentary Tiger King, told Fox26 Houston it appeared someone with a criminal history had decided it would ‘be cool to have a tiger and take it around’ in his car.
The quiet suburban West Houston neighborhood were alerted to the presence of the tiger roaming through the streets when Jose Ramos posted a warning on a neighborhood blog around 8pm.
Waller County Sheriff’s deputy Wes Manion, who lives nearby, saw the post and despite initially thinking it was a fake went to the scene to investigate.
‘You always have to verify,’ he told KHOU radio station.
Upon arriving on Ivy Wall Drive, Manion discovered the big cat on the loose in the street, and tried to shepherd it away from residents.
Video footage shows him drawing his weapon and aiming it at the tiger as it appears to be stalking him.
‘Last thing I wanted to do was shoot the tiger,’ Manion told KHOU. ‘It didn’t seem super aggressive.’
The footage shows Cuevas arrive and start dragging the tiger back inside a house, which he had been renting for six months.
Manion asked angrily why the tiger was on the loose, and Cuevas is seen on video telling him: ‘We’re with the zoo’.
Manion orders Cuevas to get the tiger back into his house and Cuevas grabs the tiger’s collar and walks it into a house. He was taken into custody on Monday night and was charged with felony evading arrest for fleeing from patrol officers
In the short clip the tiger, identified by a neighbor as a Bengal, approaches a man with a weapon trained upon it in menacing fashion.
Cuevas then puts the tiger into a white Jeep Cherokee and drives away with it.
Police pursued the vehicle but soon lost sight of it, Borza, a commander with the Houston Police Department’s major offenders division, told a news conference.
A search of the home found an animal enclosure in the backyard, but there were signs the animal had been kept inside the home most of the time.
Borza said the animal appeared to have been well cared for.
But the police commander added Houston’s citywide ban on wild animals was in place for a good reason.
‘You never know when that animal is going to turn on you,’ he said.
Elliott, Cuevas’ lawyer, said he and his client had made contact with police and arranged for him to surrender at the Harris County Jail at 8:15pm Monday night.
But police swooped on an address in Bella Veneza Drive 15 minutes before the deadline.
Cuevas was taken to the Fort Bend County Jail for a bond violation relating to his 2017 murder charge and for evading arrest.
Elliott accused police of a double-cross, insisted his client hadn’t done anything wrong, and said they were was assisting police in finding the tiger’s owner.
‘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,’ Elliott said.
While the state of Texas has very relaxed laws on ownership of dangerous animals, is illegal to keep a tiger in the city of Houston.
Carole Baskin, who runs a big cat sanctuary featured in the hit Netflix documentary Tiger King, praised the actions of the off-duty deputy in an interview with Fox26.
‘He showed an amazing amount of restraint. So many other people would have shot it like that,’ she told the station.
She said it was an all too familiar story of private big cat owners not caring properly for the animals.
‘It just keeps happening,’ she said.
‘Clearly, this cat was wondering around because they left it unattended. They probably thought the backyard fence was high enough, and didn’t realize the cat could hop it like that.’
Her husband Howard added the tiger could have easily killed a small child walking past.
The House of Representatives passed the ‘Tiger King’ bill in December, which would ban the private ownership in the US of tigers, lions and cougars.
Officers were called to the address around 8pm on Sunday night after receiving reports of a tiger roaming the neighborhood.
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.
Eventually, a person who appears to be the tiger’s owner emerges from a house and can be heard saying: ‘I’ll get him, I’ll get him.’
The man grabs the animal by the collar and takes it back into a house.
‘Get the f** back inside. F**k you and your f**king tiger,’ another man can be heard yelling at him.
According to court records, Cuevas was arrested on July 28, 2017 in connection with the murder of Oseikhuemen ‘Ose’ Omobhude, 20, who was shot in the parking lot of the Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant two weeks earlier, on July 14 of that year.
Cuevas who is due in court in July, was arrested after sheriff’s 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 a $125,000 bond.
Ceuvas being on the streets, ‘definitely shook me up this morning,’ said Shontavia Young, a close friend of Omubhude’s who was shocked when she heard the suspect in his murder was out on bail.
‘If they were in the wrong, and now you’re out doing this yes you need to be put away.’
The tiger is reportedly not the only exotic animal which has been spotted at Cuevas’ rented property.
Neighbor Jose Ramos later told ABC13 that he had seen a capuchin monkey at the residence before.
‘I figured, OK, this is a small animal. It could be domesticated. But I never thought they would hold a tiger in their house.’
An individual who identified as Rob Wormald posted video of the encounter between the tiger and the deputy on his Twitter account: ‘Apparently there’s a tiger loose on my parents’ West Houston street?’ he writes.
Texas has some of the most lenient pet ownership rules in the country, however it is illegal to own a dangerous animal in the Houston city limits.
Texas it has been noted, has some of the most lenient exotic pet ownership laws in the country. When it comes to the keeping big cats, it turns out that you can keep a tiger as a pet in Texas, except within the city of Houston.
People can own ‘dangerous wild animals’ – including lions, tigers, cougars, leopards, cheetahs, jaguars, hyenas, bears, coyotes, baboons, chimpanzees, and gorillas – as long as they have the right paperwork.
Anyone wishing to own a dangerous animal in the state has to show they can properly cage and provide for it in order to be eligible for a permit from the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife. They must also have liability insurance.
However, cities and counties have their own laws on exotic pet ownership, and in Houston ownership of dangerous animals is illegal in the city limits.
The neighborhood where the tiger was filmed is about 18 miles west of downtown Houston and still within its city limits.