Officers Open Fire on Mountain Lion in Downtown Santa Monica

Police concerned for public safety as cougar tries to escape courtyard

By Jonathan Lloyd, Rosa Ordaz and Olsen Ebright
|  Tuesday, May 22, 2012  |  Updated 1:34 PM PDT
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A mountain lion spotted in Santa Monica was fatally shot after a tranquiler dart prompted the animal to flee. Police have since released a photo of the cougar, and video provided courtesy parkme.com captured the shooting. NBC4's Patrick Healy reports for the NBC4 News at Noon on May 22, 2012.

Patrick Healy

A mountain lion spotted in Santa Monica was fatally shot after a tranquiler dart prompted the animal to flee. Police have since released a photo of the cougar, and video provided courtesy parkme.com captured the shooting. NBC4's Patrick Healy reports for the NBC4 News at Noon on May 22, 2012.

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A mountain lion cornered in a downtown Santa Monica courtyard bolted after being shot with a tranquilizer dart, prompting authorities to use lethal force Tuesday morning, according to the California Department of Fish and Game.

"We were able to get a dart in the lion. At that point, the lion was making its way out into the street and then we really have to be concerned about public safety at that point," said Capt. Daniel Sforza of the California Department of Fish and Game.

Sforza described the incident as "very unusual," adding a necropsy is planned.

A janitor first spotted the cougar in the 6 o'clock hour in the courtyard of a building located at 1227 Second St., between Wilshire Boulevard and Arizona Avenue, said Santa Monica police.

The male, 3-year-old mountain lion -- estimated to weigh 80 pounds -- apparently jumped over an eight-foot fence to enter the courtyard area.

Second Street was closed as Fish and Game agents attempted to remove the animal.

It was fatally shot around 9:15 a.m. as it tried to escape the courtyard.

"Officers deployed a shotgun as well as a rifle, and the animal unfortunately was euthanized and died at the scene," said Santa Monica Police Sgt. Robert Almada said.

Santa Monica police released a photo (embedded, right) of the mountain lion taken before the animal was killed.

"With the Santa Monica Mountains nearby, we see all kinds of critters," said Lt. Calisse Lindsey Santa, of the Santa Monica Police Department. "Raccoons, deer -- it's amazing what I've seen in last few years. It happens, but never a mountain lion in a building."

Correction: The mountain lion was an 80-pound male; not a 75-pound female as first reported.


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