When the Circus Comes To Town

And the stars of the show end up dead

What the report doesn't mention is why it was agreed, and amongst whom, to search the previously unsearched west side of the property, and to what end.

Parr found officer Charles Hayden, who carried the sole tranquilizer gun.
Parr pointed to a clear spot near his gate, several hundred yards away from the media encampment.

"I said, 'If we can get her in this clearing, if you can get your dogs to get her in this clearing,' I said, 'Officer, can you dart her here?'

"He said 'Yes sir, I sure can.'
"I said, 'Okay, I'm going to tell you where she's at.' I said, 'You've been up here by the news media in the front; she ain't been up here.'

"I said, 'If you'll walk down my fence line to the back, you'll come to my corner fence there. There's a clearing right there at that fence. If you'll go 20 feet the other side of that clearing, form you a straight line and push her back to me,' I said, 'we'll dart her when she hits the clearing.'

"I said, 'Is that feasible with you?'
"They said, 'Fine.' "
What actually happened, though, is that the posse, estimated at 15 to 20 hunters strong, never got to the back corner fence, where they could have lined up behind Sybil and pushed her into the clearing, where Hayden and Parr were waiting to dart her. Instead, they got about halfway down the fence line and spotted Sybil just across the barbed wire under a fallen treetop, on Parr's property.

"I heard the dogs," says Parr. "They never chased her. They put her at bay immediately. All the dogs surrounded her, she couldn't go anywhere, so when she lunged, she was going to make a break through one of them dogs. So instead of letting her kill one of them dogs, they killed her. They fired over 50 rounds with them high-powered rifles. I was there."

Blount's incident report, meanwhile, states that the dogs jumped Sybil, who ran, that the dogs bayed Sybil under a fallen treetop, and that he, along with dog handler James Metts and Metts's son were the first to get within sight of her. Blount says he called for officer Hayden to bring the tranquilizer gun, but before Hayden could catch up, Sybil turned on Scott Kurtz, a member of the posse. Blount gave the order to shoot, and Kurtz fired one round. Sybil then turned, and Metts's son shot her in the shoulder, then James Metts fired "approximately three times." Blount's report states that he himself finally killed Sybil with a shot to the head.

Blount's report makes no mention of the plan to come around behind Sybil and push her into the clearing, which is the reason that Hayden and his tranquilizer gun were hanging back in the first place.

The report also does not attempt to explain what 15 or more armed men, many of whom had no law-enforcement credentials, were doing in the front lines of a search for a potentially dangerous animal.

Blount counted approximately six shots.
Parr and his niece estimate upward of 50.
According to Bynum, "It sounded just like Vietnam. I mean it was horrible. It was scary. I just put my head down on my car and I was like, 'Oh my God.'

"The way I feel is once Channel 11 and Channel 13 showed up, they had no intention of trying to tranquilize that cat. 'Cause then it was like a big power play or big media thing for this little town. I don't know what the hell it was. To me it became a hunt. They were going to kill her. There's no doubt in my mind."

After speaking with the Press shortly following the incident, Blount failed to respond to several requests for clarification. In December, Blount was reassigned as livestock officer, and the county animal control department was put under the leadership of Woodlands constable Tim Holiman, whose first action was to strip animal control officers of their deputation as peace officers, meaning that they will no longer carry badges or guns. Holiman also says that he will address the issue of timely response, which has generated complaints in the past. And finally, Holiman is pursuing a United States Drug Enforcement Administration license for the county, which would allow the county to buy tranquilizer serums. Officers will attend a 12-hour tutorial on the safe use of tranquilizer guns.

Kenya Pace lives close enough to Parr's property that "if you sit out right at dark, you hear the tigers and you hear the owls."

She served the search party doughnuts and coffee in her back workshop Monday morning, and she says, "I thought the sheriff's department did a fantastic job. I really did. This could have gone on for a whole lot longer, and they knew people were just stressed, and they knew people needed to get back to work and kids needed to go back to school. I was impressed. I didn't know we had such a good sheriff's department out here."

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