Deputies: Fleeing suspect attacked by alligator

By Josh Rojas, Reporter
Last Updated: Thursday, May 09, 2013

Deputies said a Pinellas Park man tried to flee during a traffic stop only to be attacked by an alligator.

Bryan Zuniga, 20, was arrested at 12 p.m. Thursday in connection with the incident, which took place shortly before 3 a.m.

Exclusive video of Zuniga taken at the Pinellas County Jail shows his arm in a sling and a gash on his face.

According to reports, deputies tried to pull over Zuniga in the 7100 block of 78th Avenue N. because he was failing to drive in a single lane.

Deputies said Zuniga stopped the vehicle, then jumped out of the passenger side door.  He kicked a hole in a vinyl fence, then fled.

Zuniga 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, the report said.

Zuniga told deputies he had been attacked by an alligator near a water treatment plant in unincorporated St. Petersburg. He was released from the hospital and taken to jail without incident.

Zuniga's neighbors were shocked to learn what allegedly happened.

"I always see him walking around. He's like a cool dude. I don't really know him or anything but he's my neighbor. I don't want this dude getting eaten up by a gator,” said Jacob Uliase.

Gets what he deserves I guess,” said Devin Cook. "Yeah, he should've just pulled over."

Zuniga is facing charges with fleeing and eluding a police officer, driving with a suspended or revoked license, resisting an officer without violence and breaking or injuring fences. He's being held on $6,300 bond.

Deputies say they aren't sure how big the gator is that attacked Zuniga.

A Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission officer says they’ve opened up an incident report on this case. The officer says anytime a gator attacks a human it has to be caught and put down.

FWC officials say since there are a few bodies of water out in the area. They have to wait for the suspect to show them exactly where the attack took place before they go looking for the gator.