Tiger's owner was out on bond in murder case, records show

In the wake of a tiger sighting in west Houston, police are now looking for the animal's owner, who is said to be no stranger to law enforcement.

Video Transcript

- But we're going to begin today with that breaking news. On this Monday, we are now learning that the man who owns this tiger seen roaming in a West Houston neighborhood is out on bond for murder. This is near Highway 6 and Memorial. A shocked neighbor captured this cell phone video.

- It's got a collar.

- Can you-- give me my phone.

- Get back, Jr. [NON-ENGLISH]

- It's someone's pet.

- Wow! Can you imagine seeing this? Moments later, two men come out of that house. They grab the tiger by the collar and then you can see that they walk the big cat back inside. But now there is a search on for its owner.

- Well multiple people-- police sources are telling us Victor Cuevas is that man. This is a mug shot here from August 2017 when he was arrested on a murder charge. ABC 13's Miya Shay has been following this one closely. She joins us live from West Houston with more on the investigation here, Miya.

MIYA SHAY: Yeah. Cuevas, first of all is out on bond on that murder charge. He's gone to court and all those things are in order. But what authorities are concerned about is really what happened inside the house behind me. They've cleared it. There are no additional animals inside. But they are certainly looking for both Cuevas and that tiger tonight.

When a neighbor called off-duty Sheriff's Sergeant Wes Manion on Sunday night saying there is a tiger loose in his neighborhood, he thought they were kidding until he locked eyes with the beast.

WES MANION: My main thing was to protect the community, stop traffic on each side, and gain a little bit area where nobody was coming in. Kind of a little barrier between me and the tiger.


MIYA SHAY: In video captured by bystanders, you can see a man in a white t-shirt claiming the tiger as his own, and then taking it back inside a house.

WES MANION: He stated that that was his tiger and so I instructed him to grab his tiger and take it back inside.

MIYA SHAY: Multiple sources identified the man with the tiger as Victor Cuevas, someone who is currently out on bond for an unrelated 2017 murder charge.

Cuevas's Instagram page is filled with images of exotic animals, including monkeys, at one time, a bear cub and yes, a Bengal tiger. Houston police say when they responded to the tiger call Sunday, Cuevas ran.

RON BORZA: When HPD showed up, the-- the owner put the tiger in a white SUV, and drove off from the scene. There was a brief pursuit and the-- the man got away with the tiger.

MIYA SHAY: Cuevas is expected to be charged with evading arrest soon, but authorities say their main focus right now is getting that tiger into a safe and secure location. That's something neighbors say they would certainly appreciate. Did you know they had a tiger?

- No. Who thinks their neighbor has a tiger? We're dog friendly neighborhood, not tiger friendly neighborhood.

MIYA SHAY: In fact, everybody in this neighborhood say they were shocked to see a tiger here. They never seen it until Sunday night. We know the police's priority tonight is to make sure that tiger is turned over, safe and sound. We expect to have more information on that throughout the afternoon. So stay tuned to ABC13.