• Florida man bitten after jumping into pit at St. Augustine Alligator Farm

    By: Brittney Donovan , Ryan Nelson , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    UPDATE: Brandon Hatfield, the man accused of breaking into the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and jumping into a crocodile pit, has been booked at the St. Johns County jail.

    Hatfield was in the hospital for days after police say he was bitten by one of the crocodiles in the Alligator Farm exhibit.

    Hatfield faces multiple charges, including burglary and criminal mischief, stemming from the Nov. 6 break-in.

    Park staff said he caused thousands of dollars in damage during his 4-hour stay.

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    Original story: Surveillance video shows a Florida man being attacked by a crocodile after jumping into a pit at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm.

    Officers identified the man -- who reportedly spent 4 hours in the exhibit after breaking in -- as Brandon Hatfield.

    Surveillance cameras captured video of Hatfield repeatedly jumping into the pit from a 20-foot roof. Video also shows him swimming around the pond with the crocodiles.

    Park staff finds trail of blood near crocodile pit

    Park director John Brueggen tells Action News Jax that workers found evidence of a break-in as they were getting the park ready for opening Tuesday morning.

    Several lamps and signs were broken, and a statue in the middle of the crocodile pit -- that you can only get to by swimming -- was toppled. 

    Brueggen said they found a pair of shorts and a rubber "Crocs" shoe floating in the pit and thought it might be a prank.

    Minutes later, they found "a lot" of blood at the top of the zipline platform -- overlooking the crocodiles.

    When police got to the park, staff told them about the blood.

    An officer reportedly said, "Oh, I think we've already got the perpetrator in custody. We got somebody who told us they were bitten by an alligator."

    INTERVIEW: Park director recounts finding trail of blood

    Surveillance video shows the crocodile encounter

    Action News Jax obtained surveillance video that shows a man repeatedly lunge into the pit full of crocodiles.

    At one point, he climbed onto the bank of the pond, where an approximately 9-foot crocodile lunged toward him.

    An officer notes in his arrest report that it appears he had no idea a crocodile tried to eat him.

    The report says he was sitting on the bank of the pool when a crocodile locked onto his left foot.

    The officer said Hatfield could be seen trying to fight off the crocodile -- then managed to get away.

    Neighbors say he had "chomp marks" on his foot

    Police say Hatfield was located in a nearby neighborhood in only his boxers. He had blood on him.

    Calls to 911 detail how a nearby resident reported an unknown man "doing a slow, creeping crawl" on her property. 

    "There’s a man with only gym shorts crawling," the caller said. "He's just crawling with his shorts halfway down his [butt] and no other clothes."  

    Jeff Black said he found the suspect in his yard, and was ready to release his dogs on him. His wife called police.

    "A little weird to see somebody that early in just boxers going over your wall into your property," he said. "He kept saying. 'I was held hostage in a pool with gators.'"

    Black said the man had blood on him, and bite marks on his foot.

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    "He says, 'Yeah, I got bit by alligators.' Everybody’s looking at him like, 'OK, he’s got to be on something,'" Black said.

    Video shows him limping into police custody

    After Hatfield was taken into custody, an officer reportedly asked him if he'd been messing around at the Alligator Farm and he said, "Oh no sir, I wasn't."

    According to his arrest report, Hatfield told officers an "old man had the alligator on a leash and he was surrounded by all these baby alligators in the old man's garage."

    He said "the old man was feeding him to his alligators" and "began forcing him to drink this Black concoction."

    He was taken to Flagler Hospital with injuries to his leg and foot. They were not considered life-threatening. 

    Police say Hatfield is charged with burglary, criminal mischief with more than $5,000 in damage and violation of probation. He will be transferred to the St. Johns County Jail when he is medically cleared.

    Black said he thinks the guy is lucky to be alive.

    "It was pretty clear that he had an encounter, and he’s lucky to still have his foot," he said.

    Brueggen said the park has been open for 125 years and this is the first time someone has jumped into one of the exhibits.

    "I would think he's on some sort of drugs," Brueggen said. "I'm concerned about an individual who literally climbs up a wall that's meant to keep you from crocodiles and leaps over the wall into the water with them."

    None of the crocodiles were hurt, Brueggen said.

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