A Hillsborough County deputy says he was forced to open fire on an alligator in order to preserve the integrity of a death investigation.
According to the sheriff's office, a ranger at Medard Park found the body of a man laying partially in the water near a tackle box and fishing pole Wednesday evening. There were no visible signs of trauma to the man, later identified as 70-year-old Larry Webb of Lithia.
Deputies working the scene reported that gator activity in the water picked up as daylight faded. While waiting for the Medical Examiner's Office to arrive, one particular alligator -- said to be 6 to 8 feet long -- began circling in the area.
When the alligator started heading straight for Webb's body, a deputy decided to fire at the animal out of fear "that the body was possibly about to be tampered with, if not lost all together," the sheriff's office said.
The deputy's lone shot hit the alligator in the skull behind his right eye. The animal immediately submerged and was not seen again.
Meanwhile, the official cause of Webb's death was pending the results of an autopsy.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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