Del Valle man unhappy about police raid that turned up none of the missing Zilker garden fish
A man whose Del Valle home was searched by police Thursday for koi fish missing from Zilker Botanical Garden is not pleased with the Austin Police Department.
Eric Philippus, 43, said 10 to 12 officers came to his house about 10 a.m., knocked down the door and drew guns on his 17-year-old son and his other son’s girlfriend. Philippus was not home at the time.
“Any time that we do a search warrant no matter how innocuous it may be, if we don’t get an answer at the door, … the law allows us to force entry into the building or residence,” Austin police Sgt. Jamie Jobes said. “When we do that, it’s incumbent upon officers to ensure their own safety and the safety of anyone in the building. They’re going to enter with their guns drawn and take precaution.”
Jobes could not comment on the specifics of the case.
Police acted on a tip from a local fish pond owner, according to court documents.
At a news conference Thursday, Sgt. Catherine Johnson said that officers had acted on a search warrant for a “person of interest” and that Philippus remained a person of interest.
Philippus, who has a koi fish pond in his backyard, said he did not steal the missing fish and has no idea who did.
Zilker Botanical Garden reported 13 of its fish missing from the Isamu Taniguchi Japanese Garden. The fish, which were 2 to 3 feet long and weighed 15 to 20 pounds each, were valued at $150 to $200 each, according to a city representative.
“I love my koi pond, but the largest koi I have back there is less than a foot,” Philippus said. “They’re looking for koi in strange places — in the bedroom, in the closet, places that can’t hold water or fish. It’s ridiculous.”