A Harris County teenager was arrested Tuesday after allegedly killing a bald eagle in a north Harris County neighborhood.
Orlando David Delgado, 17, is charged with a hunting misdemeanor. Killing a bald eagle is normally a federal crime, but the U.S. Attorney's Office declined to prosecute Delgado because of his age.
Delgado bonded out of jail on Wednesday.
A resident called the Harris County Sheriff’s Office after finding the dead eagle behind his home, which runs along White Oak Bayou.
The man told deputies he had seen three males near the tree where the eagle nested and one of them had a rifle.
While waiting for deputies, the man said the three males came back, pulled a feather from the eagle’s body and drove away in a white pickup truck.
Thanks to a tip from a mail carrier, Deputy A. Ebrahim found the truck a block away in front of Delgado’s home.
Investigators say Delgado admitted he shot the eagle with a high-powered Gammo pellet rifle. The first shot did not kill the federally protected bird, so he shot it several more times.
Neighbors are upset and heartbroken after hearing the news.
“It really hurts my stomach, it's like a family member,” said Monette Villegas.
Villegas and her family watched the bird for years, along with another eagle they believed was his mate.
The family named the birds, Steve and Mary.
One of them is now memorialized with a stuffed animal eagle the family brought to the tree on Wednesday.
"Steve I kind of made up out of nowhere,” said Albert Villegas. “Mary, my mom gave me the idea because of America."