Arrest warrant obtained for man who reported missing mountain lion

Police are seeking a North Augusta man they say filed a false report of a missing mountain lion in Aiken on Sunday.

The Aiken Department of Public Safety has obtained an arrest warrant for Billy J. Lunsford, 55, on a charge of providing false information to a public safety officer after he said his black, domesticated mountain lion was stolen from Aquarium Pets on Richland Avenue West, according to a news release.

According to an incident report, Lunsford told police early Sunday someone had forced their way through the metal side of the building and stole the mountain lion, valued at more than $35,000. Lunsford said he believed the mountain lion, described as being about 3 feet tall and weighing about 100 pounds, was pulled through a six-inch gap in the wall.

After news of the missing animal made it to social media and residents began to call in, investigators determined the report was fraudulent.

Lunsford is believed to be in the Breezy Hill or Graniteville area. Anyone with information can call the Aiken Department of Public Safety at (803) 642-7620 or Crimestoppers of the Midlands at (888) CRIME-SC. Tipsters may remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000.



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