Officials fatally shoot escaped tiger

Sunday, September 29, 2002

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. -- A 400-pound Bengal tiger that held police at bay for much of Saturday was shot and killed as it attempted to flee the area.

The tiger escaped from a trailer at a truck stop around 5 a.m. and fled to an overgrown field near a residential area, Bloomington Police spokesman Duane Moss said.

Police and zoo officials were hoping to use tranquilizer darts to subdue the animal, but failed on four attempts, Moss said.

"It's not the way we wanted it to happen. I could only guess that the officers had little choice," Moss said. "I certainly would think that they thought they had little choice."

Moss said the tiger had been holed up most of the afternoon in some shrubbery along a six-foot high fence line. Police blocked off the area to contain the tiger in the area.

One of the people traveling with the animal nearly captured it earlier in the day, but the cat ran off before it could be secured, Moss said.

But just before 2:30 p.m., the tiger appeared again and approached a truck on which two Illinois Conservation Officers were standing. As the tiger approached the truck, the officers fired three shots.

"The tiger had moved to the truck and was trying to get past it, get away from all this commotion out here," Moss said. "It was trying to get past (the officers) and apparently they thought it was time to end this thing."

One shot hit the tiger in the head, Moss said. It's not yet known whether the other two shots also hit the animal.

Police are treating the area as a crime scene.

Bloomington residents woke up Saturday morning to warnings they should stay in their homes because a tiger had escaped.

It was not yet known whether the escaped tiger is the same one belonging to a Texas woman convicted in Illinois of endangering a child. Mary Jeane Williams, 44, was charged after her 400-pound tiger bit a young girl. Williams, who was keeping a tiger near Hennepin, was ordered Thursday to remove her tiger from the state.

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