Officers arrest man accused of falsely reporting missing mountain lion

Man falsely reports missing mountain lion in Aiken

AIKEN, SC (WFXG) - Investigators with the Aiken Department of Public Safety have arrested a man who they say filed a false report about a missing mountain lion.

Billy J. Lunsford, 55, of North Augusta is charged with providing false information to a public safety officer, according to the Aiken Department of Public Safety. Officers arrested him Monday night in North Augusta.

Officers said Lunsford filed a police report around 12:45 a.m. Sunday that a domesticated mountain lion was missing from Aquarium Pets on Richland Avenue West. He said someone broke into the store and stole the black, 100-pound, 3-foot-tall mountain lion.

After the ADPS put the warning out to the public about a mountain lion roaming the streets, information started coming in.

"Somebody called and gave us some information that we followed up on and have confirmed that there never was a mountain lion in that building," Sawyer said.

Sawyer said it wasn't just the ADPS that was out looking for the animal either.

"We have tied up resources now for 16, 18 hours with animal control, people riding and looking for this animal, people reviewing social media," he said.

He said despite the resources used, he's grateful for the public's help in finding out the truth.

"The public is our main source of information most times and most instances. Especially social media. When people start talking back and forth we're watching it and we can  piece one and one together and say 'Oh, let's go talk to this person. Let's interview this person,'" he said.

At the end of the day, it was always about keeping the community safe.

"That's our job. We're here to protect the public and let the citizens of Aiken know what's going on and protect them, and that's what we're going to do," Sawyer said.

They have no motive as to why Lunsford made up the entire story.

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