LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — Police are investigating at Lake Hunter in Florida where a large alligator was seen with a man’s body in its mouth.
Tuesday around 1:40 p.m. someone at Florida Presbyterian Homes called 911 to report seeing an alligator in the lake that had a body in its mouth.
Police responded to the scene and said that they saw the gator with the body.
“The officers got here and the alligator still had the person. He let the individual go, he is deceased, looks like this person may have been dead more than a day,” said Sgt. Gary Gross from Lakeland Police.
It’s not clear if the gator killed the man or how he died. “We don’t want to speculate but I will say when the officer got here the alligator did a roll and had the person in contact with him,” added Gross.
“The officers immediately got their firearms out in case the gator comes up. Once he left they didn’t want him coming back and pull the body back out. That did not happen,” said Gross. The alligator then released the body from its mouth.
Police were able to pull the body from the water. Florida Fish and Wildlife officers, along with gator trapper Scott Barbon, are on the lake searching for the gator.
“The main thing now is if they trap the gator to try to figure out if they can do a test on that gator and see if there’s any human parts in that gator’s stomach,” said Gross.
A state alligator trapper responded to the scene around 3 p.m. to help catch the gator. As of 4 p.m., the trapper was on the lake with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers. There are two alligators that keep showing up in the lake, but they have not been able to capture them. Around 4:25 p.m, the gator trapper returned to shore to set out a buoy with bait. He was unable to find and hook the gator by hand.
Lakeland police are investigating the identity of the man. No other details have been released.
Florida Presbyterian Homes is a senior living community located at 16 Lake Hunter Drive in Lakeland.