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MONTCLAIR : Mountain Lion Shot by Police at Shopping Center

Police shot and killed a 2 1/2-year-old mountain lion at the Montclair Plaza shopping center Monday night after three attempts to tranquilize the 65-pound animal failed and it advanced toward police officers.

Seven rounds were fired at the animal by the four officers and a supervisor who responded to the scene.

“Our fullest intent was to get the animal tranquilized, sedated and back into the mountains,” said Montclair Police Lt. Terry Gibson.

Gibson said security officers at the plaza noticed the lion lounging near the loading dock of the J.C. Penney store at the Montclair Plaza at about 11:30 p.m.

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A biologist from the state Department of Fish and Game and a volunteer from the Wildlife Waystation were called to the scene. Each fired a tranquilizer dart, both of which missed the animal, Gibson said.

A third dart hit the lion in its upper hind quarters, said Bob Schlichting, spokesman for the state Department of Fish and Game.

Before the tranquilizer could take effect, the lion began pacing in the loading bay and then paused and moved toward the officers, Schlichting said. The officers flickered their lights and made noise to try to scare the animal back into the dock. When it came within 10 feet of one of the officers they fired, Gibson said.

The carcass was removed from the scene by the Humane Society. Fish and Game officials believe the animal came down from the nearby mountains.

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