Florida Man Shoots Gator Near Horses, Shooter Arrested and Charged

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About 6:30 p.m. on June 21, 2016, 74-year-old Reginald Blanton discovered a 8.5-9 foot, 300 lb. alligator near his agitated horses. Blanton shot the reptile with a 9mm handgun, reportedly hitting it two or three times. The shots may have proved fatal, but the alligator was still there, lying in the grass, when the authorities “euthanized it.” While the story is almost two months old, there are important lessons here.

After the shots, Blanton’s stepson, Jack Hildreth, 58, approached the alligator, believing it to be dead. It wasn’t. From wfla.com:

His stepson then arrived and got about eight feet away from the alligator when it suddenly attacked. “Whenever he raised up after my stepson, it looked like he was shot out of a cannon. I had never seen nothing like it,” Blanton said.

Alligators can move amazingly fast for short bursts, as can be seen in this (graphic) YouTube video. The video shows the speed with which an attack can occur. Blanton’s stepson, Hildreth, 58, was severely injured.

Don’t assume your adversary is out of the fight simply because they are down and motionless. They may be “playing possum.” Combat soldiers are taught to consider this when they approach downed enemy combatants. A lot of people have been killed by “dead” adversaries.

That goes double for reptiles. Snakes are particularly known for being able to bite long after they are considered dead. Reptiles need far less oxygen to function so it takes much longer for their systems to shut down. A severing of the spinal cord stops them immediately, but it’s a small target, as is the brain.

What happened six weeks later is also instructive.

Jack Hildreth was medivaced by helicopter with severe leg and thigh injuries. A few days ago, Reginald Blanton was arrested for shooting the alligator, or for possessing alligator parts illegally. Both charges have been mentioned in press reports. It’s not certain if only one, or both have been charged.

This wasn’t a civil summons, as is usually the case in game violations. This was a full blown criminal arrest. He had to post bond.

That’s rather unusual for an animal situation, especially in a case such as this in which the arrested is a long-time local resident who has property and livestock in the area. A 74-year-old land owner seems an unlikely flight risk. From dailycommercial.com:

Blanton was charged with possession of alligator parts. He was arrested and released on Aug. 4 after he posted bail.

Now, Blanton said his lawyer has told him the charges will be dropped Thursday.

Standing with his cattle and donkeys on his County Road 542 property Wednesday, Blanton said he was shocked that he was arrested for shooting at an alligator who was endangering his horses.

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The charges came from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and may have involved a missing piece of alligator tail. A FWC spokesman said that the missing piece of alligator tail was missing before the shooting; so just what part of the alligator Blanton is charged with possessing is uncertain. The dead alligator was removed from his property by the authorities after the attack.

You can’t assume that you are legally in the clear, even if the local authorities have not charged you. There are thousands of statutes on the books, and thousands more (mostly federal) are added each year.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to know if you are breaking a law or not. Some authoritative writers claim that an ordinary citizen commits three felonies a day, whether they intend to or not, simply becuse of the increasing complexity and vagueness of the law.

But this is an example of the problems that face someone who is involved in a defensive shooting. Legions of people who don’t know you and who weren’t there will be second guessing your actions and motivations. Some of them have the power to cause you considerable difficulty legally, even long after the fact.

Animal attacks are usually far less of a problem to justify than shooting a human for many good and obvious reasons. But there are numerous people who anthropomorphise animals. Some of those are willing to attack anyone who shoots an animal, no matter how justified the situation may be.

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.  Link to Gun Watch

comments

  1. avatar stevor says:

    o’bama needs a trip to gator country (when no guns allowed)

    1. avatar Anonymous says:

      The secret service would shoot them up. No charges would be filed.

    2. avatar adverse4 says:

      He is welcome to come to Louisiana and take part in an alligator trolling trip.

    3. avatar Lt Dave says:

      S.S.S.

      Shoot, shovel and shut up.

      1. avatar Bob R says:

        Excellent advice. Calling the police or any other armed government mercenary when not absolutely necessary is a recipe for disaster. They are not there to help you, they are there to try to find a way to arrest you.

        1. avatar Big Daddy says:

          So true and a reason to not trust the police. It’s sad how THEY made themselves into the enemy, not law abiding citizens who would rather support police. In part it’s the politicians and unions fault as well as their own inflated egos.

    4. avatar HEADSOUND says:

      And he WOULD be attacked, gators love chicken!

    5. avatar Richard says:

      I don’t see the point of this article since there were no firearms charges brought. What does this have to do with the use of firearms?

      1. avatar MikeyTX says:

        Slow day ……….. It makes good copy and page filler ……… 😉

      2. avatar HEADSOUND says:

        I think the obvious point is, if there was not a firearm discharged it never would’ve happened.

  2. avatar FormerWaterWalker says:

    Whut? “Called him Amos Moses”…you can’t have “parts”? I wish everyone well-except the gubmint.

  3. avatar JSIII says:

    This is insane they arrest this old guy for shooting a gator that was a threat to his animals? Florida is turning more “blue” by the day

    1. avatar Anonymous says:

      What are you talking about? Florida is Blue, and they are voting Hillary all the way.

      http://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2016-election-forecast/?ex_cid=rrpromo

      1. avatar NorincoJay says:

        I have a tough time with that poll. The last poll I saw questioned just 402 likely voters. You can’t get accurate data with such small data set.

        There is also a big disparity between the East Coast and the rest of Florida. Dems are pretty much relegated to Miami/Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties. The rest of Florida are mostly republicans.

        My guess is these polls are questioning people in these counties to deliberately manipulate the data.

      2. avatar Nagurski says:

        1,702,878 people voted in the Florida Democratic Primary,

        2,355,184 people voted in the Florida Republican Primary.

        I’m just saying

        1. avatar billy-bob says:

          Yes, but somehow those 1,702,878 democrats will manage to cast 2.5 million ballots. Just sayin’.

    2. avatar Early BIRD says:

      Alligator Lives Matter! 😉

    3. avatar Bob R says:

      This is what “law enforcement” is all about. It is blind to common sense and justice, they look for any excuse to make an arrest. Their job performance is directly tied to the number of arrests they make. Justice and common sense and compassion is in direct opposition to their incentive structure.

  4. avatar jwm says:

    “Hello, 911? My dumbass step son got hisself tangled in barbed wire and needs an ambulance. And could you tell fish and game that I ran off a poacher that killed a gator on my property. They might want to come get the carcass.”

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      You are on the right track.

      My position is to make sure the gator is dead (put a round in its brain) and then walk away — let nature take care of the dead gator. Remember, we have a Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and not incriminate ourselves.

      1. avatar anonymoose says:

        Heck, if it were me, now that we know it was still alive until animal control showed up, I would have reloaded, and told “dumbass stepson” to hold the 9mm on it while I go fix the bayonet on my 590.

        1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          I would have told my dumb-ass stepson, “Chute ’em!”

      2. avatar Geoff PR says:

        “My position is to make sure the gator is dead (put a round in its brain)”

        Lots easier said than done.

        Put it to you this way:

        Shoot a gator between the eyes. You will now have one *very* pissed-off gator, since you missed his walnut-sized brain by about 6 inches…

        1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          And that is why I carry .40 S&W rather than the measly 9mm!

          (snicker as I start 9mm versus .40 S&W caliber war)

  5. avatar adverse4 says:

    Donkeys are cute.

    1. avatar anaxis says:

      They are decent burglar/trespasser alarms as well; if someome comes up my driveway the idiot dog won’t make a sound, but my neighbor’s donkeys will go nuts (which sets off the guinea hens).

  6. avatar Ralph says:

    Blanton’s certainly not the first guy who got in trouble because of a piece of tail.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Badumm-tish.

      1. avatar Daily Beatings says:

        “I’ll be here all week, try the veal”.

        1. avatar Ralph says:

          Don’t forget to tip the gator — oops, I mean, tip the waiter. The waiter.

    2. avatar Crowbar says:

      Ohhh, look at that ass! (snicker)

  7. avatar Adub says:

    So in the video they bait wild animals so they get eaten by other wild animals? Seems like a dick move to me.

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      That’s not what they use for bait.

    2. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “So in the video they bait wild animals so they get eaten by other wild animals? Seems like a dick move to me.”

      Dude, they are wild HOGS.

      An INVASIVE species.

      A PEST.

      Best EXTERMINATED.

      Anyways, this story is local to me, but this is the first I’ve heard of it.

      I SUSPECT, but do NOT know, that the problem was when he harvested the gator. (The *parts*).

      He probably would have been OK if he immediately contacted the game warden after the incident, but cutting it up indicated a harvest…

      1. avatar strych9 says:

        Feral hogs, a cross between domesticated pigs and wild hogs are an invasive species.

        Wild hogs and feral pigs are both a nuisance but the ferals are the more dangerous/super destructive ones.

      2. avatar WhiteDevil says:

        Go read the comments on that video. Hardened warriors (/sarc) threatening death to the individuals throwing food to the hogs to get them farther out in the water. These people issuing threats, no, these cowards issuing threats that they will never act upon, are seriously pissing their pants about something that, most likely, happens rather frequently. How would these weasels survive without their life support system when it ceases to provide the tit they’ve been suckling for so long?

      3. avatar LarryinTX says:

        What article are you addressing? The one I read said the gator was still alive, attacked his stepson and put him in the hospital, and was killed by responding police, who also carted it off. Where was the “harvesting” you speak of?

    3. avatar gs650g says:

      Looks like they were merely feeding a gator to me. No sympathy for that pig whatsoever. As we can see in the video there are plenty more left, although the rest are a little more smarter around water now.

  8. avatar AR says:

    All lies~~9mm can’t kill anything.

  9. avatar Charlie says:

    9mm X 19 is not enough gun for gator. .308 is OK. .338L is better.

    Charlie (in Louisiana)

    1. avatar strych9 says:

      The guys on that gator hunting show use a .22LR rifle.

      Of course they have the beast right where they wanted it and shoot it point blank in a soft spot in the head…

  10. avatar Dave says:

    With pest animals, remember the 3 S’s:

    Shoot, Shovel, and Shut up.

    You can’t get arrested for the anthropomorphic gator they don’t know about. I’m so sick of these people, like Jimmy Kimmel, blubbering like a baby over the death of some savage animal.

    Whoever arrested him has obviously watched “The Princess and the Frog” way too many times, where the gator just wanted to play the trumpet in a jazz band with the big boys.

  11. avatar Lucas D. says:

    Th-btb-b-th- That’s all, folks!

  12. avatar strych9 says:

    Seems dumb but cops regularly recommend rediculous charges and a prosecutor OK’s them at the beginning due to the limited time they have to file. Effectively a rubber stamp. Then they review the case and realize it’s crap and drop it.

    Happened to me and nearly derailed my life. I’m sure it happens to a lot of people.

  13. avatar IYearn4nARnCali says:

    #CrocLivesMatter

    What a silly world we live in. It will shortly be easier to be a Class 03 SOT Dealer than a common gunsmith because of our Commander an Cheat, a DGU leads to more time than a stabbin’, etc,etc,….. Another day another case of WTF.

    I think we are all pretty much done with this gamed system of increasing complexity. If we do nothing wrong, the powers that be create new ways in which the simple act of living your own life brings you further and further into illegality because of the need to generate funds for various governmental groups, or simply screwing with gun culture because they know we won’t rise up against them, since to do so would be highly susceptible to lowering the quality of your life to zero, or even negative numbers.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Spot f-ing on.

  14. avatar Hannibal says:

    Can he get the same lawyer Zimmerman had?

  15. avatar Ole'Wolf says:

    Notice:
    Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission,

    Please find attached the Bill for my son’s medical treatments.

    You also find attached the summons to defend yourselves in the XXX County Court for failure to control and protect and control the wildlife as you have been in-powered to do.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    I believe the citizens who pay your impressive salaries will be interested as well, I know my neighbors at the surounding ranches are.

    You have been so served on this Day, the XXX day of the year Two Thousand and Sixteen

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Just toss it in the trash, guys, just another pissant taxpayer running off at the mouth.

  16. avatar Reggie Browning says:

    This is why I carry pepper spray as well as my gun. I actually bought my gun and got my license to carry, because in my rural area, people let their dogs run free in their yards. The dogs think the road is part of their territory when I walk or ride my bicycle down it. I got pepper spray for this specific reason. And I don’t want to shoot a dog either if I don’t have to.

  17. avatar AD says:

    Had to kill a coral snake MUCH too close to my front door. The machete was very effective and it wasn’t in much shape to bite or even writhe around with its first 4-5 inches missing. Any range advantage is your friend – be they human or animal (or both)

  18. avatar derfel cadarn says:

    To kill an alligator you have to chuteum anything else is a waste of time, just ask Troy.

  19. avatar Mansfield Lovell, Famous Confederate General says:

    Lucas D wins the Internets! That made me lmfao.

    Im thinking the Y’allTube video was from a nearby Pearl River tourboat operation.

    If I was the tourboat owner, I’d have hogfeeders set up all along that section of river. Trust me, he’ll have a line out the door with folks fixin’ to go on a tour.

    “Screw the talk about Roseau cane! Where’s the damn gators eatin’ porkie pig??”

  20. avatar Me says:

    I don’t know if Richard is just a bit DULL or plain stupid! To say he doesn’t see the point of the article because no “gun charges” were brought?……….. the point is that ANY charge was brought for killing a dangerously deadly, nuisance animal! The gator was an imminent threat to this man’s costly herd of animals! Not to mention HUMANS who live in the area!

    Gators are supreme stealth attack creatures! You or whatever their prey is have NO IDEA they are present and WHAM!!! You’re slammed to the ground and most usually drug to the water to be hauled in and under to drown…….a miserable way to die!

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