The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

May 20, 2008

Deputy kills jaguar ... or was it leopard?

By Jeff Lehr

jlehr@joplinglobe.com

NEOSHO, Mo. — A Newton County deputy shot and killed a large, black cat of uncertain species Monday morning when the animal, either a leopard or a jaguar, charged him.

Capt. Richard Leavens of the Newton County Sheriff’s Department said Vickie Sanders, 61, called shortly after 6 a.m. Monday to report what she took to be “a black panther” at the door of her home at 9555 Orchid Drive, southwest of Neosho.

When Cpl. Donn Hall of the Sheriff’s Department arrived, he spotted a large, black cat standing on its hind legs and pawing at a storm door of the home.

“When he got out of his car, it charged him,” Leavens said. “He fired on it and wounded it. It ran past him to the end of the driveway and then came back at him.”

Hall left his patrol car with a shotgun and fired two shots on the cat’s initial charge, Leavens said. As the cat charged a second time, Hall fired additional shotgun blasts and then pulled his .45-caliber Glock handgun, he said.

“It took several shots with that to get one that took effect,” Leavens said.

Hall escaped any injury from the cat, as did Sanders and her dogs, Leavens said.

Sanders had been hanging some laundry on a clothesline in her yard when the cat appeared and started toward her, Leavens said. She told the Sheriff’s Department that one of her dogs “intercepted” the cat, allowing her time to get inside her home along with her dogs.

The cat then began pawing on the door of the home and kept it up until Hall arrived, Leavens said.

A state Conservation Department officer was called to the scene after the animal was killed. While the species of the animal was not immediately certain, the suspicion was that it was not accustomed to living in the wild.

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