Sunday 23 October 2016

'Burglar' eaten by alligator as he hid from police

Matthew Riggins, 22, is thought to have jumped into a lake to escape a police search team

Adam Boult

Published 09/12/2015 | 06:51

Matthew Riggins Photo: Brevard County Sheriff's Office
Matthew Riggins Photo: Brevard County Sheriff's Office

A burglary suspect has been attacked and killed by an 11-foot alligator while trying to escape from police officers.

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The remains of 22-year-old Matthew Riggins, a resident of Palm Bay, Florida, were found in a lake in Barefoot Bay on November 23, ten days after he was reported missing.

In this photo released by the Alameda County Sheriffs office, an alligator named
In this photo released by the Alameda County Sheriffs office, an alligator named "Mr. Teeth" is seen after it was discovered in a home in Castro Valley, Calif., on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013. Authorities say the alligator, apparently used to protect a stash of marijuana inside the home, has been taken to a zoo

On the evening of November 10 local residents in Barefoot Bay had called the police to report two men dressed in black who'd been acting suspiciously behind their homes.

Police launched a search with a helicopter and a K9 unit and, according to deputies, Riggins called his girlfriend on the phone to tell her he and an accomplice were being chased by authorities.

Police believe Riggins then jumped over a fence to hide in a lake - at which point he encountered the alligator.

"He probably went into the lake to hide from the officers and the dog, and came across that gator," said Major Tod Goodyear of Brevard County Sheriff's Office. "To hide somewhere to try and get away, and then meeting up with an animal like that, no, I've never had that happen before."

 Riggins' body was found by police dive teams searching the area. While they were recovering the remains, a spokesman said, they were 'aggressively approached' by an 11-foot alligator near the body.

The animal was caught and put down by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

According to reports, forensic examination of the alligator "located remains consistent with the injuries to Riggins inside the alligator’s stomach.”

Investigators say Riggins drowned as a result of the alligator attack.

Barefoot Bay resident Chuck Stotes told reporters: "I would say it's poetic justice, you want to sit there and steal from people,."

Deputies said they’ve apprehended a man believed to be Riggins’ accomplice, who is refusing to cooperate with the investigation.


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