Jamarcus Bullard witnessed a scene out of a horror movie Saturday when he spotted an alligator swimming with an adult human body in its mouth. It happened in a canal of an unincorporated area of Largo, near Tampa on Florida’s southwest coast.
Bullard contacted authorities, then began using his phone to record the scene he couldn’t believe he was watching.
“I threw a rock at the gator just to see if it was really a gator and like it pulled the body, like it was holding on to the lower part of the torso, and pulled it under the water,” Bullard told Tampa’s WFLA News Channel 8. “It [the alligator] lifted up out of the water with the body, like it was just clamped onto it, and it like swam backwards, like, under to the bottom of the canal to the other side. I just couldn’t believe it was real.”
State authorities soon showed at the scene, and Bullard watched events unfold as Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission worked to capture the gator.
“They put a rope around its neck [the gator] and put it on a pully of a truck,” says Bullard. “They were reeling it in, but it started to pull the truck in the water so the guy was like ‘we just got to get it out a different way.’
“They got this long stick thing, pulled the head (of the gator) out of the water, then they shot it and once they reeled it all the way out, they stretched it out and measured it 13 feet, 8.5-inches long and they shot it again.”
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has identified the person the gator had in its jaws as 41-year-old Sabrina Peckham. It’s still under investigation whether the gator killed the woman, or latched onto her body after she died from another cause. Peckham had been arrested for trespassing on a county wetland in July.
Naturally, area residents are stunned by news.
“My kids walk by there all the time,” Jennifer Dean told WFLA. “So it’s really scary.”
Bullard walks the area regularly, but now has a different view of his neighborhood.
“I walk this way for work, there and back, and I’ll always look both ways just in case like an alligator or something like that,” he says. “I never thought I’d see one out here. I thought it would be in the swamps and all that, but it was a big gator out here in our water.”