A Florida man was arrested for shooting an aggressive alligator, on his own property, that threatened not only his horses but also his stepson.
Reginald Blanton, 74, could face up to five years in jail for shooting an alligator that eventually died.
Using a 9mm handgun, Blanton took four shots at the alligator when he saw it near his horses on his property in Bushnell, Florida, WFLA reported. He said they were acting strange.
“I took my gun with me … because I didn’t know what was out there,” Blanton said.
Three of the shots hit the alligator. Blanton’s stepson, Jack Hildreth, 58, then went over to the gator, which attacked him.
“Whenever [the alligator] raised up after my stepson, it looked like he was shot out of a cannon,” Blanton said of the reptile. “I had never seen nothing like it.”
The animal, which was still very much alive, bit Hildreth’s leg and gave him a severe wound.
“It was a burst of lighting-like,” Hildreth said. “It was just a surprise. … His mouth is the only part that got me and he got the back of my calf, too.”
Fortunately, someone on the scene pulled Hildreth to safety. He was then taken to a hospital.
What happened next was nearly as shocking as the alligator attack. Sumter County Sheriff’s Deputies charged Blanton with illegal killing an alligator — a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison in the state of Florida.
Friends and family were shocked by the arrest, WFLA reported. Blanton’s family now has to pay for medical expenses for Hildreth, and bail and an attorney for Reginald.
“If I had just left him alone, he would have had my horses.”
It is illegal to kill alligators in Florida unless you have a license. Gator hunting season started on August 15 and lasts until November 1.
The state of Florida raised around $1.63 million by selling 6,000 alligator hunting licenses for the 2016 season, WFLA reported. Florida now has an alligator population of 1.3 million. Alligators were originally an endangered species but the population is now stable.
There have been several high-profile alligator attacks in Florida recently, including that of a two-year-old boy who was killed near a Disney World hotel in Orlando.