Alligator attacks fleeing suspect leaving him with puncture wounds to face, arm and armpit
Gregg Burrage , Jacqueline Ingles
3:02 PM, May 9, 2013
9:42 AM, May 10, 2013
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - After running from deputies during a traffic stop Thursday morning, Bryan Zuniga, 20, ended up near a water treatment plant, where he said he claims he became part of an alligator's breakfast.
Pinellas County deputies pulled over Zuniga around 2:45 a.m. for failing to maintain a single lane. Once he stopped, he jumped out of the passenger-side door, and ran, kicking and breaking a vinyl fence to escape.
He was found a few hours later at a local hospital where he was being treated for multiple puncture wounds to his face, arm and armpit area.
There, Zuniga told deputies he was attacked by an alligator near a water treatment plant in unincorporated St. Petersburg.
Upon his release from the hospital, Zuniga was arrested and charged with breaking fences, fleeing, driving with a suspended license and resisting an officer without violence.
Neighbors who know Zuniga called him shady and spoke to ABC Action News on the condition of anonymity.
"Ouch! But when you do trouble, trouble comes to you," said one neighbor. "Karma! Karma comes back at you."
According to another neighbor, Zuniga is referred to around the neighborhood as 'the little punk.' That neighbor also declined to comment on camera.
ABC Action News also tried to speak with Zuniga's parents, whom he still lives with, but they also declined on camera interviews. Off camera they said their son is a good kid and only has scratches.
Meanwhile, neighbors near the water treatment plant suspect they know which alligator Zuniga came face-to-face with.
Carey Brodnick provided a picture of a six foot long alligator who 'peacefully polices' the waterway now that she has laid eggs.
"He got in her way," said Brodnick. "She was protecting her eggs."
Florida Fish and Wildlife officials said they will look into the case. Protocol calls for them to put down any gator that attacks a human.
Brodnick and her family said there are multiple gators in the waterway, along with other predators, and do not want any of the gators hurt, especially the expectant mother.
Zuniga is being held on close to $6500 bond and will go before a judge Friday morning.