Bengal tiger cub found inside dog crate in trailer as Albuquerque police investigate shooting

Officers in New Mexico responding to a shooting say a “trail of blood” led them to a tiger cub inside a dog crate in a trailer.

Albuquerque police were alerted to a shooting around 2:15 p.m. Tuesday by ShotSpotter. While on the way, someone reported that a victim had been shot outside a convenience store. They found a person who had been shot in the leg outside the business.

Investigators later said it appeared that the victim had been struck by a stray bullet.

While on scene, an additional gunshot was heard coming from a mobile home nearby. Officers quickly began to move toward the gunfire and located Kevin Gerardo Vargas Mercado, who was armed with a semiautomatic handgun with an extended magazine. 

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A Bengal tiger cub was found in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as police investigated a shooting, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023.

A Bengal tiger cub was found in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as police investigated a shooting, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023. (Albuquerque Police Department)

A Bengal tiger cub was found in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as police investigated a shooting, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023.

A Bengal tiger cub was found in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as police investigated a shooting, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023. (Albuquerque Police Department)

Mercado was taken into custody without incident, according to a social media post.

Officers then followed a trail of blood leading to a trailer in the area. As they approached, they realized the door was unlocked and that the blood trail continued inside, but they didn’t find anyone.

A Bengal tiger cub was found inside a dog crate. Officers obtained a search warrant for the residence in order to retrieve the tiger. The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish was contacted and took custody of it. 

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New Mexico Department of Game and Fish conservation officers took possession of a young Bengal tiger confiscated by the Albuquerque Police Department.

New Mexico Department of Game and Fish conservation officers took possession of a young Bengal tiger confiscated by the Albuquerque Police Department. (New Mexico Department of Game and Fish)

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In a subsequent Facebook post, the state Department of Game and Fish said that conservation officers transferred the tiger to the ABQ BioPark, where it was examined by veterinarians and determined to be in good health. The tiger will reside in its temporary home at the BioPark until an investigation is completed, and a permanent facility is located.

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