By Mark Sayre

SAN MATEO (CBS SF) — A man could face charges for opening fire as wildlife officials searched backyards in San Mateo in the hunt for a mountain lion that was later tranquilized and captured Monday.

San Mateo police received at least three calls reporting the sighting beginning shortly before 5 a.m. Monday.

“One of our officers responded to the scene, and upon getting there he actually saw the mountain lion out in front of his car,” San Mateo Police Sergeant Rick Decker said.

The big cat hid out in trees and near homes for 12-hours in the densely populated area near El Camino Real.

As police and wildlife officials were moving in to tranquilize the animal, a man living at an apartment complex went outside and fired a shot.

“He looked like he knew what he was doing.  He had the gun safely in his hand, pointed down.  It is not like he was being careless, but it was shocking.  It was the loudest noise I ever heard,” one neighbor said.

Police say the man fired the shot in an attempt to scare off the mountain lion, but say it was poor judgment.

No charges had been filed as of Tuesday, but the case will be referred to the district attorney’s office for review.

The mountain lion was released near the Crystal Springs Reservoir Monday night.