The mountain lion that strayed into Palo Alto residential areas Monday morning was shot and killed by a Palo Alto police officer about 1 p.m. Monday, ending a tense lion-hunt that started before dawn.
Officer Corey Preheim pulled up to a house on Walter Hays Drive, aimed her AR-15 assault rifle into a tree and fired. The lion fell about 30 feet to the ground, scrambled up and ran two lots before collapsing. Officers confirmed that it was dead.
“I’m sorry I had to do that,” Preheim told a city naturalist at the scene.
The single shot ended a tense, urgent lion hunt that began before dawn when a newspaper delivery man reported that he thought he saw a mountain lion at 4:45 a.m. A couple -- Don and Mary Ganshaw -- walking in the 500 block of Parkinson Street made a positive identification an hour later.
A woman living next to Eleanor Pardee Park at 7:30 a.m. heard a mountain lion scream from the community garden area behind her house, and a raccoon raced out of the garden.
“It was a tough call,” Police Chief Lynne Johnson said of the decision to shoot the lion instead of attempting to tranquilize it with a rifle-fired dart. “It was moving, jumping from backyard to backyard, and when the officer had an opportunity ....”
She said there was also concern about how long it takes for a tranquilizer dart to work -- about 25 minutes -- during which time the lion could keep moving. In some cases, a darted lion could “become more dangerous” during that time, she said.
She said she had consulted with Interim Chief Bruce Cumming of Morgan Hill -- former Menlo Park police chief -- about the three lion incidents he has dealt with in the past year. In the instance where they tranquilized the lion, they had to use six darts
The lion’s final whereabouts was discovered by Newell Road resident John Furrier, who had taken is 11-year-old black Labrador, Kelsey, on a walk to look for the lion. Furrier told the Weekly he had four young children, including two aged 2 and 4 years old, who would be a special risk if the lion stayed at large.