A 74-year-old Florida man was arrested by wildlife officials after he opened fire on an alligator that he claims was terrorizing his horses.
Reginald Blanton said he walked through his Sumter County pasture with his 9mm handgun because something was spooking his livestock.
When he saw a 9-foot, 300-pound gator a few feet away from his animals, he fired four rounds, he said, striking the predator three times. His stepson, thinking the reptile was dead walked up to it, only to be severely bitten.
That’s when Blanton dialed 911. “My stepson just got bit by a damn alligator,” he told the dispatcher, according to audio of the call made on June 21.
Wildlife officers later euthanized the gator.
Blanton said he was floored when he was arrested earlier this month and charged with illegally shooting an American alligator, a misdemeanor. “I was shocked because I wasn’t expecting it,” he told WKMG-TV. “I don’t think I should be charged with that.”
Blanton's stepson, Jackie Hildreth, 58, spent 10 days in the hospital after he was attacked, suffering serious wounds in his calf, thigh and neck. The gator, Blanton said, "raised up like he'd been shot out of a cannon" and latched onto Hildreth.
"He's bleeding bad," Blanton told the emergency dispatcher.
The Florida Wildlife Commission spent more than a month investigating the shooting and agents "felt there was enough evidence and the state's attorney agreed" to charge Blanton with the illegal taking of an alligator, spokesman Robert Klepper told InsideEdition.com on Thursday.
A judge will determine what, if any, punishment Blanton will face, Klepper said. The maximum penalty is up to $500 in fines and 60 days in jail.
Blanton said he was only protecting his horses and did nothing wrong.