A Florida man was arrested on Tuesday for shooting an alligator that was threatening his horses and attacked his stepson.
Reginald Blanton of Bushnell, Florida noticed his horses were startled by something in one of his fields. He grabbed his gun and went to investigate. What he found was a nearly ten-foot-long alligator.
Since the gator was mere feet from his horses, Blanton said he feared they might be attacked. That’s why he pulled out his 9mm pistol and shot at the gator.
"I shot at him four times, and they said I hit him three," he told NBC affiliate WFLA.
Blanton and his stepson Jack Hildreth thought the animal was dead and Hildreth began to approach it. The gator was not dead, however, and attacked Hildreth once he got within eight feet of the animal.
"Whenever he raised up after my stepson, it looked like he was shot out of a cannon," Blanton told the news station. "I had never seen nothing like it."
"It was a burst of lighting like," Hildreth said. "It was just a surprise."
The gator grabbed hold of Hildreth’s, leg but with the aid of a friend, he was eventually able to escape his grip. The bite left a severe wound on Hildreth, however, and he had to be treated at a nearby Ocala hospital.
Police and wildlife officials eventually arrived at the scene of the attack and surrounded and killed the alligator. Police then arrested Blanton for his role in the ordeal.
The arrest left Blanton stunned.
"I was shocked because I wasn’t expecting it," he told CBS affiliate WTSP. "Getting the charges dropped, it’s going to cost some money still, but I don’t think I should be charged with that."
Blanton’s neighbors said they are on his side.
"I would have done the same thing if it was out there with my horses," Danielle Jackson told WTSP. "I would have done the exact same thing."
"I assumed you were allowed to protect your livestock and your animals. I didn’t know it was illegal," Kelly Cruz told the TV outlet, echoing Jackson’s sentiments.
Blanton said if he had it to do over again he might not have shot the gator, but he is still convinced his horses were in danger.
"I wouldn’t shoot the damn gator cause I couldn’t kill him anyway," he told WTSP.
There’s no report yet on whether or not local prosecutors will follow through with charges against Blanton, but he has already obtained legal counsel.