An alligator killed and ate a suspect hiding out from the cops in a swampy section of Brevard County, Florida, USA Today is reporting.
Twenty-two-year-old burglary suspect Matthew Riggins was on the lam when he wound up on the business end of an alligator. Police say that on November 13, the suspect told his girlfriend that he and an accomplice — later taken into custody without being killed by an alligator — were planning on burglarizing homes in the town of Barefoot Bay, according to Florida Today. The coastal community of about 10,000 people, about 90 miles southeast of Orlando, is popular with “snowbirds” — that is, Northerners who come to Florida to escape the winter cold.
HOT OFF THE PRESS: A shot taken today of the Barefoot Bay Clubhouse, as well as sunrise & pelicans over the Atlantic pic.twitter.com/GL4L0WlwmH
— Indian River by Air (@IRCbyAir) November 12, 2015
Later that day, police got a call that two men in black clothing were seen walking around behind houses in the community. When the police showed up, the two suspects bolted. One was apprehended by the police and is in custody and “not cooperating” with authorities. The other suspect, Riggins, was never again seen alive. Later that night, police heard “yelling” from the area but were unable to identify the source. Ten days later, police found Riggins’ body in a lake near Barefoot Bay. While recovering the body, divers encountered an 11-foot alligator “behaving aggressively,” according to Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Major Tod Goodyear.
“When the body was found, it had injuries that were consistent with an alligator attack. We had trappers euthanize the gator and when we opened it up, there were some remains inside that were consistent with injuries found on the body.”
Police say the suspect died from drowning, and bite marks on the body indicate that the alligator dragged him under the water. Although alligators are terrifying to behold — they can grow up to 15 feet long (or longer, in rare cases), and have rows upon rows of razor-sharp teeth — they are generally not a threat to humans as long as you leave them alone and employ common sense, according to the University of Florida.
“Alligators and Floridians usually have a peaceful coexistence, but there are recorded attacks and occasional fatalities. The key to staying safe is being alert to the possibility of alligators being present. Never feed gators or swim or wade in waters where large alligators are known or likely to occur, especially at dusk or night (when they naturally feed)… Normally, alligators avoid humans, but alligators that have been fed by humans will move toward humans and can become aggressive. Alligators that have been fed by humans are dangerous.”
Fatal alligator attacks on humans are rare. Since officials began keeping records in the 1970s, there have been 26 fatal alligator attacks against humans, according to Wikipedia. In the majority of cases, the victims were swimming or diving near gators – which is why it’s always a good idea to obey warning signs.
— Unny (@JacobUnmacht) March 14, 2012
In July 2015, a Texas man named learned the hard way why you should obey such warning signs. Tommie Woodward, 28, ignored the warning signs and jumped into gator-infested waters in Texas. His last words were reportedly “F**k the gators.”
Matthew Riggins wasn’t the first burglary suspect to learn this the hard way that you should avoid the water in gator-infested areas. In 2007, Juston Padron, also fleeing cops, jumped into a pond and was killed by a nine-foot alligator, according to the Associated Press.