Fleeing suspect caught -- by alligator - FOX 13 News

Fleeing suspect caught -- by alligator

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Photo courtesy PCSO. Photo courtesy PCSO.
ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) -

A suspect who fled from a traffic stop is facing a slew of charges, but his legal problems may be the least of his concerns -- it was an alligator who finally caught up with him.

Somewhere inside a scenic Pinellas County waterway...Deputy Chompers lurks.

"The alligator is like our patrol alligator," said Donna Keller, who lives nearby.

Early Thursday morning, 20-year-old Bryan Zuniga found that out the hard way.

Deputies say he took off and ran after a routine traffic stop for failing to stay in a single lane.

He apparently tried to hide out near a wastewater plant, but one of the gators had other plans. It took the law into its own jaws -- snapping Zuniga in the face and arms.

"If you're going to come down here and break the law and everything, somehow it is going to catch up to you," said Darren Davis, a neighbor.

Zuniga wound up in the hospital, then ended up in jail. Deputies credit the gator with helping to take a bite out of this crime.

"It did help our situation. If the alligator didn't bite him, he wouldn't have gone to the hospital. We could still be searching for him at this point in time," said Cristen Rensel, with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

Proving not all gators are a nuisance.

Zuniga now faces charges like resisting an officer and driving with a suspended license.

Neighbors say they love their little slice of nature nearby and especially now knowing Deputy Chompers is on patrol.

"I think he got what he deserved," Davis said

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