New details emerge about the Florida zoo cleaner who was mauled by a Malayan tiger at the Naples Zoo on Wednesday, then shot and killed, including that he has a history of arrest and was regarded as “disturbed” by his neighbors described.
River Rosenquist, 26, was taken to a hospital with serious arm injuries after authorities and zoo staff said he had entered an unauthorized area near the tiger’s enclosure at the Naples Zoo after hours Wednesday. entered Caribbean Gardens, allegedly to pet or feed the eight-year-old animals. -old big cat named Eko.
The tiger grabbed Rosenquist’s arm and prompted the cleaner to call 911 for help.
A Collier County sheriff’s deputy, responding to the scene, shot Eko in the neck to release Rosenquist’s mangled arm, as seen in a graphic body camera video released Thursday by law enforcement.
Naples Zoo president and CEO Jack Mulvena said at a news conference early Friday morning that the highly endangered tiger is believed to have died of internal bleeding, but an autopsy will be performed on the animal Monday to determine the exact cause of death.
Police camera shows the horrific moment a Florida cop shot and killed a tiger after it grabbed Rosenquist’s arm after the cleaner tried to pet or feed him
Eko (pictured), an eight-year-old Malayan tiger, was killed Wednesday night after a sheriff’s deputy struck him with a single shot
“Our thoughts and well wishes are with River Rosenquist,” Mulvena said. “It was a stupid mistake, a bad decision, but we just wish him a speedy recovery.”
Meanwhile, provincial records indicate that Rosenquist, who worked for an outside cleaning service, HMI Commercial Cleaning, was arrested in 2015 on charges of driving with a suspended license.
Rosenquist, who was 19 years old at the time of the arrest, entered a deferred prosecution program and in September 2015, prosecutors dismissed the charges against him.
According to an online obituary, Rosenquist lost his mother in 2012. He has a brother and lives with his father on Rosea Court in Naples.
The family’s neighbors told a WINK News reporter that Rosenquist was a “troubled” youth.
Naples Zoo president and CEO Jack Mulvena said at a news conference Friday that he supports the deputy’s decision to shoot the tiger to save someone’s life.
In a statement released Thursday, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office said it: would determine whether charges would be filed against Rosenquist, but it did not say what the charges might be.
Mulvena, the president of the Naples Zoo, said he has not considered filing charges.
“Our focus is now on our staff,” he said. “They’re still grieving. We’ve lost a relative with Eko.’
Mulvena added that he does not believe zoo policies or protocols were responsible for what happened.
“I think the lesson learned is that you can’t 100 percent prevent people from making really terrible decisions,” he said. “Ultimately, things happen that are … beyond our control.”
The zoo was closed on Thursday, but reopened to the public on Friday. Mulvena, while holding back tears, said zookeepers will not be making any speeches today.
According to the sheriff’s office, Rosenquist was supposed to clean the zoo’s bathrooms and gift shop, but instead made his way to the Malaysian tiger exhibit, where he wasn’t allowed to be, broke a barrier and stuck his arm through the fence surrounding the fence.
“We don’t know what happened and why he did it,” Mulvena told reporters on Friday. ‘We suspect to pet or feed’ [the tiger], but only River knows that.”
The tiger clamped its powerful jaws on Rosenquist’s arm and wouldn’t let go.
Video shows Rosenquist, from Naples, bloodied and on the ground in the Naples Zoo tiger enclosure, crying out in pain: ‘Please help me! Please help me!’
Rosenquist appeared to be petting or feeding the tiger, both of which police say are “unauthorized and dangerous activities.”
Preliminary investigations revealed that Rosenquist was cleaning the toilets and gift shop when he decided to enter an unauthorized area of the tiger enclosure and ran his hand.
A security guard was notified of the incident and called 911 for assistance. Mulvena said the after-hours guard’s role is to guard the grounds, but he doesn’t have a stun gun.
The zoo employs a weapons and tranquilizer team, but they only work during office hours.
A Collier County sheriff’s deputy arrived at the zoo around 6:30 p.m. and saw Eko the tiger tearing Rosenquist’s arm apart.
The body camera video released Thursday shows the sheriff’s deputy asking if a tranquilizer is available and saying no, and unsuccessful attempts to distract the animal by kicking the enclosure.
The Collier County Sheriff’s Office is working with state and federal prosecutors to investigate the incident and determine whether criminal charges will be filed against Rosenquist. Officials also note that he is employed by an outside cleaning service and not a member of the zoo staff
Unable to let go of the cleaner’s arm, the deputy, believing he had no other options, fired a single shot.
You could hear Eko growl around the time the fatal shot was fired, then he retreated to the back of the fence where he died.
Mulvena said no blood was found on Eko, suggesting it died of internal bleeding.
The zoo director defended the deputy who shot Eko and said members of the Naples Zoo weapons team agreed that it was the right decision and that they would have done the same under the circumstances.
Mulvena said he has suspended HMI cleaners’ contract with the zoo pending an internal investigation, though he said the company has done a “great job” and there have been no previous incidents.
Calls and emails to HMI Commercial Cleaners asking for comment went unanswered Friday.