Billy J. Lunsford, 55, was arrested Monday on charges 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.
Aiken Public Safety spent several hours Sunday searching for the mountain lion, which he described as being 3 feet tall, weighing 100 pounds and wearing a dog harness.
Officers were initially called to the pet store to file a burglary report. Lunsford, who is affiliated with the business, met them at the scene. About 15 screws had been removed from the building and a pipe had been used to pry back a metal sheet.
Hours later, police learned the story was a hoax, but they are still questioning why Lunsford made up the account.
“He’ll have his day in court (to tell the story),” Sgt. Jake Mahoney said.
Mahoney said officers had to take the bizarre story seriously because of the possible threat to the public.