A Florida man was arrested on Tuesday, November 6, after visiting the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park after hours the previous night. He caused thousands of dollars in damages and was attacked by a crocodile.
The St. Augustine Police Department explained on Facebook that they received a call from a resident on Holly Lane around 6:50 a.m. on Tuesday about a suspicious male, wearing only boxers, crawling on their lawn. The responding officers noticed that the man, who was identified as Brandon Keith Hatfield, was bloody and had injuries on his foot, so they took him to Flagler Hospital for treatment.
As the officials were en route to the medical facility, the police department received a call from the Alligator Farm. Staff members had found a single Crocs shoe and various pieces of clothing in one of the crocodile exhibits, and several other exhibits and statues around the park had around $5,000 worth of damages.
After reviewing surveillance video, officers soon realized that the man brought to the hospital that morning, Hatfield, was the same guy in the footage.
According to the director of the Alligator Farm, John Brueggen, he had illegally entered the property around 7:45 p.m. on Monday, November 5, reported News4JAX. Hatfield walked around the park, causing the damages, and even jumped off of a roof into a pool inhabited by three 12-foot Nile crocodiles. That’s where he was attacked by one of the reptiles.
This is a prior mugshot of Brandon Hatfield, the man St. Augustine police say jumped into a pit of crocodiles after breaking into the St. Augustine Alligator Farm.— ActionNewsJax (@ActionNewsJax) November 6, 2018
Video shows at least one crocodile attacking him: https://t.co/jja2MoSPG0 pic.twitter.com/QmkeOQgo1y
Jay Ruditis of Fuel Productions, the park’s security company, told News4JAX that the surveillance footage revealed that the crocodile had dragged Hatfield and thrashed him around a bit. As he escaped that exhibit, he walked across a fence above more than 200 alligators that were just 12 feet beneath him. He was in the park for about four hours.
The results of toxicology reports are still pending, but Dee Brown of the St. Augustine Police Department told First Coast News that “he was possibly high on something.”
“It’s a bizarre story, and in 125 years, we never had somebody try swimming with our crocs, and we hope it never happens again,” Brueggen told News4JAX. “Our biggest concern is someone tried hurting themselves, and your life is worth more than jumping in with crocs.”
No crocodiles were hurt during the odd incident.
#TONIGHT: #FloridaMan Brandon Hatfield is in the hospital after being bitten by a crocodile. He jumped into a crocodile exhibit at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm. Police tell us he's going to jail once he's medically cleared.@ActionNewsJax @WOKVNews pic.twitter.com/wxxGhVC7LZ— Ryan Nelson (@RyanANJax) November 7, 2018
Hatfield was charged with burglary, criminal mischief, and violation of probation, and was going to be transported to the St. John’s County jail after being released from the hospital.
The 23-year-old had been arrested in September for car theft, drug possession (meth), and criminal mischief (he damaged the police cruiser in which he was placed). He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years probation.