It took 3 tranquilizer darts and 8 rounds to take down lion after deadly attack, police report says

Josh Chapin Image
Thursday, January 3, 2019
Lion succumbs after 8 shotgun rounds
Lion succumbs after 8 shotgun rounds

CASWELL COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- A newly released police report details the chaotic moments after a lion attacked and killed a college intern at the Conservators Center in Caswell County during the weekend.

According to the report, it ultimately took three tranquilizer darts and eight shotgun rounds to put down the lion, named Matthai.

The report details the timeline of events as follows:

  • Deputies arrived at the scene after receiving a call about an animal attack
  • They made contact with the CEO of the center, Douglas Evans
  • He said that a tranquilizer gun was on the way to put the lion down
  • The fire department said they had hoses set up to spray the lion if he got too close to the victim, whose body had not been retrieved
  • The tranquilizer gun arrived, however, while Evans was preparing the dart with medication, the dart broke and they couldn't get the broken part back out of the gun
  • Evans then left to get another gun
  • Evans came back, this time with a blow dart. He told deputies that he retrieved it from his home, where he keeps the darts and medication
  • Evans blew two darts, which hit the lion but appeared to have no effect
  • While he was preparing a third dart, the lion jumped from one platform, down to the ground and then to the top of another structure
  • Evans hit the lion with a third dart. The lion jumped off the structure and then went inside the structure and laid down. After a few minutes, the lion still showed no signs of sleepiness
  • A firefighter then tried to use a hose to get the lion out of the structure and into the safety enclosure but the attempt failed and the lion started moving toward the victim once again
  • The lion passed by a sergeant at the scene and the sergeant shot the lion, using a 12 gauge shotgun, near the front right shoulder
  • The lion did not go down but instead ran back into the wooden structure
  • The sergeant fired a second time, hitting the lion in the same area. The lion did not go down. Another lieutenant put a third shot in the same area. After a few minutes, the lion still would not go down
  • The sergeant fired a fourth shot into the lion's right side. The lion moved inside the structure but still did not go down
  • The lion then came outside the structure and ran toward the fence where the deputies were standing. The sergeant put a fifth and sixth bullet into the lion but the lion continued to run.
  • One of the deputies then shot the lion in the base of the neck, and he finally went down. A few minutes later, the lion stopped breathing.
  • Evans told the sergeant that he would need to shoot the lion in the heart to make sure he was dead
  • The sergeant then shot the lion in the heart.
  • Evans went into the enclosure and confirmed that the lion was dead
  • EMS went into the enclosure and confirmed that 22-year-old Alexandra Black had died from her injuries.

According to the report, EMS was first dispatched at 11:35 a.m. The first crew arrived at the scene at 11:42 a.m.

Late Wednesday, the Conservators Center released a statement about Black, the victim.

"Alex Black was a wonderful person. The Conservators Center continues to mourn Alex's passing and sends its deepest condolences to family and friends.

Our top priority has been and remains the safety of our staff, visitors, community, and animals. The Center is fully cooperating with all ongoing agency reviews of this incident.

"We are not at liberty to provide specific details about the incident, but we can confirm that the Center's personnel took direction from the on-site first responders, complied with their directives and provided all requested assistance.

"We are grateful for the outpouring of support from the community in response to this tragedy.

The Black family has requested donations be made in Alex's name to Wolf Park, and the Conservators Center echoes that request. Donations can be made here,

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