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NYPD officer: Tranquilized tiger came at me

Martin Duffy
Martin Duffy

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CNN's Bill Hemmer speaks with New York Police Officer Martin Duffy about taking a 425-pound tiger into custody.
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Bill Hemmer
New York Police Department

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A New York City resident was arrested over the weekend after police found a Bengal tiger and an alligator living in the man's Harlem apartment.

Before removing the huge cat from the apartment, Police Officer Martin Duffy scaled the outside of the apartment building and tranquilized the tiger through a window. CNN anchor Bill Hemmer spoke Monday with Duffy about his first-of-a-kind experience.

HEMMER: Ever [been] called to duty to shoot a tiger before inside of an apartment in Harlem that weighed 425 pounds?

DUFFY: No, sir.

HEMMER: What did you think when you arrived there?

DUFFY: Well, we had to confirm that he was inside the apartment. We were finally able to get confirmation that he was seen in the apartment during the night.

HEMMER: You had cameras or something watching the movement inside, is that right?

DUFFY: Initially we broke the next door neighbor's apartment to try to gain entry. We broke into the owner's apartment, and then into another room inside that apartment. We couldn't see him. One of our assistance units was able to break out some cameras.

HEMMER: So this is you rappelling down the side of that building, right?

DUFFY: Actually, I'm being lowered.

HEMMER: All right. You get close, and what happens as the tiger comes through that glass?

DUFFY: I got a little concerned, to say the least. It came to the window twice. And then he finally -- that's when I was able to see that I had a clear shot to tranquilize him.

HEMMER: So he knew you were there?

DUFFY: He knew I was there, definitely. I tranquilized him, and that's when he charged. The Bronx Zoo vets said he might charge if he was tranquilized.

HEMMER: So you fired one dart?

DUFFY: I fired one dart, I hit him, and that's when he charged the window and broke the glass.

Officer Duffy being lowered outside the tiger owner's apartment.
Officer Duffy being lowered outside the tiger owner's apartment.

HEMMER: You hit him again then?

DUFFY: No. The first shot eventually worked. They said it would take a little while for it to work.

HEMMER: So you see this 425-pound tiger coming at you. You are thinking what?

DUFFY: A little concerned, like I said. When he broke the glass, that was my big concern, that he could try and get out the window, and possibly come out at me or even get out.

HEMMER: I read some comments where you said you were nervous. You admit that?

DUFFY: I was definitely a little concerned, like I said, when he broke the glass. It wouldn't have taken much for him to come all the way through the glass.

HEMMER: I'd say that's understandable. Apparently the man who lived inside this apartment had been clawed or bitten earlier in the week, and that's what tipped off police to go check it out.

DUFFY: Yes, that's the start of the whole process.

HEMMER: Did anyone in this apartment building ever report the presence of not only the tiger, but an alligator in the same unit?

DUFFY: I'm not really sure. I'm not sure who knew what was in the apartment.

HEMMER: Does that mystify you a little bit as to how that happens?

DUFFY: The alligator, not so much. You know, it's urban folklore, but the tiger was definitely a surprise.

HEMMER: I know some of the guys helped out with you. I don't want to leave them out.

DUFFY: Definitely, no, I don't want to leave them out. I want to thank everybody. I'm being interviewed, but I couldn't have gotten down the side of the building without the help from the guys upstairs and the officers downstairs proving security. It was a great job on everyone's part.

HEMMER: Job well done.

DUFFY: Thank you very much. ...

HEMMER: The tiger is where now? In Ohio?

DUFFY: He was taken to Ohio. He's going to be living in, I guess, in an animal sanctuary in Ohio.


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