11-foot Alligator Eats Accused Burglar in Florida

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Matthew Riggins is believed to have been killed by an alligator while scoping out a neighborhood for burglary.

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Matthew Riggins is believed to have been killed by an alligator while scoping out a neighborhood for burglary.

Authorities in Florida believe that a man was killed and partially eaten by an alligator while trying to evade police officers following a burglary attempt.

The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office announced recently that the body of Matthew Riggins, 22, was found in a Barefoot Bay Lake after being reported missing. According to clickorlando.com, deputies said that Riggins told his girlfriend on November 13 that he was going to commit burglaries with an accomplice. Later that night, a resident in the Barefoot Bay area reported two suspicious figures dressed in black walking through people’s lawns. Deputies spotted two men matching the description and attempted to question them, but they fled on foot into a wooded area.

Although deputies called in assistance from K-9 and aviation units, they were unable to locate the suspects. Officials believe that the two men likely separated and at some point Riggins called his girlfriend and told her that he was being pursued by the police.

“He probably went into the lake to hide from the officers and the dog, and came across that gator,” Maj. Tod Goodyear of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office told Bay 9 News. “To hide somewhere to try and get away, and then meeting up with an animal like that, no, I’ve never had that happen before.”

Ten days later on November 23, a body was spotted in a lake near the search area. Deputies discovered an aggressive 11-foot alligator near the body while attempting to retrieve it, and a trapper from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was called in to euthanize the animal so deputies could recover the body. An examination of the wounds on Riggins and analysis of the gator’s stomach contents pointed to a predatory attack. Officials said that alligator likely attacked Riggins in the early morning of November 13 and killed him by dragging him underwater and drowning him.

“He hid in the wrong place,” said Barefoot Bay resident Laura Farris.

Alligators are commonplace in many places throughout Florida. Although the scaly reptiles rarely attack humans, larger adults present a considerable danger—especially if you enter their space. Earlier this year a woman swimming upstream on the Wekiva River was bitten by an alligator in an attack that resulted in the loss of her arm. Florida officials advise residents to be aware of alligator warning signs and to stay away from the waters they frequent.

Deputies said they have identified the other suspect that accompanied Riggins, although the man is not currently cooperating with the investigation.

You can watch an interview with officials below: