Man Arrested For Killing Alligator That Attacked His Stepson

Bob Irwin highlights the latest self defense and other shootings of the week. Read them and see went wrong, what went right and what we can learn from defense with a gun.

Alligator Head
Man Arrested For Killing Alligator That Attacked His Stepson
Bob Irwin
Bob Irwin

Las Vegas, NV –-( WFLA-TV 8 reports this week in Bushnell, Florida that a 74-year-old Sumter County resident shot and killed an alligator that attacked his 58 year old stepson.

The 74 year old rancher, Reginald Blanton, discovered his horses acting strangely out in his pasture and spotted the large gator near them. He drew his 9mm handgun and fired four shots, hitting the alligator 3 times.

His 58-year-old Jack Hildreth stepson then arrived and approached the gator. He got within eight feet away when it suddenly attacked.

“Whenever he raised up after my stepson, it looked like he was shot out of a cannon. I had never seen nothing like it,” Blanton said.

Hildreth said he assumed the alligator was dead as he approached because it wasn’t moving. Suddenly he couldn’t see anything but teeth. “It was like a burst of lighting” he said. The alligator, more 9 feet in length, lunged forward and grabbed his leg. A teenage friend helped pull Hildreth away from the alligator. He was later taken to an Ocala hospital and treated for severe injuries.

Arriving Sumter County deputies surrounded the animal and a licensed trapper killed it.

Now, friends of the family say they are shocked because Sumter County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested Blanton for unlawfully killing the alligator. Seems it against the law to kill an American Alligator without a special permit.

The family says in addition to dealing with medical expenses for Hildreth, they’ve been forced to put up bail money for Blanton and hire an attorney, all because of an aggressive alligator on their private property.


This is on private property owned by Blanton for his whole life. If he’d shot a person biting his stepson’s leg, it would be clear defense of a third party and a good shoot.

Folks shoot aggressive dogs, bears and snakes all the time. The difference in this incident is a protected species. So the rancher is supposed to let his horses get chewed up or turn his pasture into an alligator sanctuary?

A truly stupid physical arrest (rather than a written citation) and even dumber criminal charge. If words were exchanged, perhaps a contempt of cop charge was the real issue.

Hopefully this will get a speedy dismissal in court!

Bob Irwin, The Gun Store, Las Vegas

About Bob Irwin

The writer is the owner of The Gun Store in Las Vegas and has a gun talk radio show “Fired Up with Bob Irwin” Firedup is now on KSHP 1400 am radio from 5 to 6 pm on Thursdays and at the same time also on YouTube “Fired Up with Bob Irwin.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I learned a lot here. Some of it good and some of it…..well we’ll just leave it at that. I’m going w/ SSF, have the proper fire power, a large shovel and pick axe and always dig deep enough, properly filling the hole. I suggest a chainsaw too. I mean how are you going to drag the gator if it’s 90 lb.?


How did we go from shooting a gator to black people are the beast that shi crazy ………. that youtube video was freaky


Wow, lots of grumpy people today! What would I have done? I don’t have a clue, I wasn’t there and who among us trusts what the media tells us. Unlike crocs, gators normally won’t attack something bigger than they are. They do but not often. And yes, I live in Fl. with a 5 acre pond full of them behind my house. #1 problem is people feeding them, they lose their fear of people. If they’re sick or injured then all bets are off. They can be very nasty. If the story is correct with all the details I’d have… Read more »

Mommy Gina

I agree


Some of our laws are completely senseless. I would have done the same thing. This creature (NOT a human) killed my child? Screw the ‘Justice System’. It is broken, anyway. Has been for some time. Ask any African-American.


Exactly. Screw the law, that gator would be toasted with or without their permission (lord forbid) if worse comes to worse, ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

Pat Myass

As anyone will tell you who has had dealings with the EPA and wildlife management, even on your own property, there are 3 rules you live by. Shoot, Shovel and Forget. Heaven forbid you might disturb the activities of the hairy chested nutscratcher or in this case, saved the life of a child. There is a large dose of stupidity on the part of the parties concerned here. Not just by calling the authorities. Alligators are ambush predators and can leap the length of their bodies in a fraction of a second. And if you’ve ever watched Swamp People, you… Read more »


Sorry but go back read. The son is 50 something and was bitten after the gatetor was shot. But that said. No ameeded thrit call. Animal. Control. Or kill the danger at hand

Robert Thomas

Should have shot the damned thing with a proper rifle. Got the tractor and dragged it into the brush or buried it. Isn’t there a drought in Florida currently? Maybe that explains why the gator was in a horse pasture. Says he’s owned the land his entire life, I’d think he’d know what’s unusual or not on his property. Horses agitated by a large gator that’s likely a new arrival. Next time use a bigger gun.

Wild Bill

T, I could not agree more.


Anal-retentive morons with authority. Never a good combination. I hope the DA, in the interest of justice, drops the charges.

Mommy Gina

Name-cling lowers your credability

Mike McAllister

Normally support the police, but this time they are IDIOTS!!

Wild Bill

, We don’t know how many horses or that the 74 year old man could have moved any of them in time. The old man may have understood, for reasons not explained in the article, that time was of the essence. Once the alligator turned violent against a human, shooting was appropriate. I look forward to seeing more facts come out in this case.

Randy Ciuros

You can’t swing a dead cat in Florida without hitting 4 gator trappers. I know a couple people in Bushnell that could have came and relocated the gator for free. He could have moved the horses away if they were that close to the gator and called FWC. Someone would have showed up in minutes. True, according to the article, he didn’t kill the gator. He did shoot it 3 times, so getting cited or arrested for that is understandable. His 58 year old stepson should have known better than to approach it. If they both stayed away from it,… Read more »

Mommy Gina

I agree

Timothy Winsley

Sorry about the multiple comments… It didn’t appear to post the first one originally, but apparently it did eventually…

Timothy Winsley

Shooting an animal in the field when it’s not attacking somebody is typically called poaching, not self defense… For it to be self defense it would have had to be attacking somebody, or acting in a manner that could reasonably lead one to believe it would. Sitting in a field doesn’t qualify. If he shot somebody who was simply sitting in his field, that would be considered murder, not self defense, contrary to your claim.




Another 12 year old allowed online – great!

Wild Bill

@TW, Horses act funny because they are in fear. Horses are prey animals, alligators are predator animals. The horses knew what the predator was going to do. The attack was on. If one, horse or human, waits for the movement phase of the alligators attack, then it will be too late to escape or defend. The alligator’s presence was but for one reason. The horses were clearly in danger. The shooting was justified. Poaching is hunting out of season. This was not hunting. Regarding your analogy. A human just sitting in one’s field may have some other purpose. Thus your… Read more »

Timothy Winsley

Uh, since when did shooting animals that weren’t attacking anybody or anything become self defense? If y’all read the article, you’ll notice it said he shot the alligator while it was in the field minding its own business, not while attacking. In fact, it didn’t attack until after being attacked, which would mean in fact the alligator attacking was it defending itself. Your claim that if he did the same to a person it would be considered self defense is just plain wrong. If he saw a person in his field and shot them without even attempting to get them… Read more »

Wild Bill

@Timothy W, I have not seen you post before, so welcome aboard. The business that the alligator was minding was preparation to eat a horse or part thereof. The answer is to shoot, shovel and shut up because the police or sheriff’s deputy is just another form of low level bureaucrat into whose thinking common sense does not always enter.

Tim W

Yes, but if one is going to do that, one really should have a much more powerful weapon than a 9mm… If he’s lived in Florida for any length of time, or if he knew anything about alligators, he should have known a 9mm isn’t enough to do anything but get the gator angry unless he hits it in just the right spot. If that’s the only weapon he had it would’ve been smarter to just move the horses and let those who are legally allowed to deal with the gator. Also, the article isn’t clear, but the gator’s behavior… Read more »

Wild Bill

@TimVA, Yes a more powerful weapon would be preferable, and that is a good observation. All predator/prey (even human predator on human prey) instances are, however, “come as you are” situations. The alligator was stalking the horses. Often alligators will pretend to be ignoring their prey, and do not move for a long period, in an attempt to fool the prey. All predators do that, too. It is a good lesson… whether at the water hole or the local watering hole. Let the authorities deal with it…maybe if there is time, but once the execution phase of the attack is… Read more »


Gators don’t kill horses. Where I lived in Florida, ranchers grazed their livestock in and around lakes full of gators. No problem.

Wild Bill

@Charon, Every animal is on the alligators’ menu. So, I doubt what you say is true.


Hmmmm – don’t live around gators much, do you. Do your research and don’t be a troll.

Wild Bill

@Charon, We have alligators in East Texas. My understanding is that alligators are the apex predator in Florida, and that they eat deer, black bear, and even the panthers that are native to Florida. If an alligator views those animals as prey, then alligators will view horses as prey. I did my research. Don’t be mouthy.


Let’s see – hmmmm – deer weigh about 110 lbs in Florida, black bear about 200-300 lbs, a large panther is about 150 lbs and horse weighs 1,000 or more pounds. Simple math. Try researching peer reviewed publications and not The National Inquirer. Cattle and horses are not on the menu of this so called “apex” predator. Pull that foot out of your mouth.

Wild Bill

@Charon, Alligators can reach over 900 lbs. That is more than large enough to injure a horse causing it to die or have to be put down. The important part, however, is that the rancher reasonably believed the alligator was a threat to his live stock. So pull that head out of your a_ _.


There you go again Wild Bill. When you can’t parry with facts and logic, you resort to those ad hominem attacks. Are you sure you aren’t one of those 16 year old trolls? Step up.


Looks like there may be over 1 million alligators in Florida (Louisiana, too). Cannot find a reference to horses being killed and eaten. “The facts, Ma’m, just the facts”.

Wild Bill

@Charon, I believe that you opened the door to ad hominem attacks with, “… and don’t be a troll.” Then you continued with, “Pull that foot out of your mouth.” And then, “Are you sure you aren’t one of those 16 year old trolls?”
The relevant facts are that alligators will attack prey larger than itself, and the seventy four year old Florida man, who as a rancher is experienced with dangerous predators versus domestic animals situations, had a reasonable fear that his property was in danger. He acted reasonably.


@Wild Bill. Now that is a much more reasoned, well thought out statement. Good job!

Wild Bill

@Charon, “No problem” really the newspapers report otherwise. Either you did not do your research or you simply lied. Even a cursory search shows that alligators do attack horses in Florida. There are so many, easy to come by accounts, that I can not begin to post them all. infra: “Alligator Attacks Horse in Pastureland Near Tampa-St. Petersburg Tampa, FL — (ReleaseWire) — 06/30/2015 — Equine sustaining bite to leg is latest among growing number of gator-linked incidents in Florida. RSSPrint Large watery environments such as the Everglades or Lake Okeechobee and alligators go together in Florida like central Florida… Read more »


@Wild Bill And none of the horses were killed and eaten. When people are bitten by rattle snakes, it isn’t because the snake is going to eat them. The only defense an alligator has when some 1,000 lb horse steps on his tail is a pretty snappy toothy one. Look at the photo of the gator in the Odessa attack – he couldn’t drag a horse into mud puddle much less into a river or lake. Large gator prey such as deer have to decompose in order for a gator to break down the carcass and that occurs under water.… Read more »

Jim in Conroe

I tend to agree with you, that shooting the alligator in the field was not a legal action. There is nothing in the article that indicates that the horse was in danger of being attacked, only that it was acting strangely. This is probably attributable to the alligator being in the field in the first place.

In the absence of a clear threat, shooting alligator was not the right option.




Aren’t you pretty much “armchairing the game” joe?


Joe, can you even spell alligator?


It clearly states that “a licensed trapper killed it”…so how can he be arrested for it? Stupidity due to some liberal BS!\


The rancher shot the gator before the attack. Gator had to be euthanized due to being wounded. Just like any wildlife, leave ’em alone.


The idiocy in this country never ends. Alligators are not and never were endangered. If you actually read up about the circumstances of the endangered listing, it is due to it’s similarity to another species (the American crocodile) which it resembles and occupies some of the same territory. Additionally, the state/fed has found another opportunity to generate funds through permits.


Its not the country, its the evil people who occupy our government, media and corporate entities. The only weapon we have at this time is Boycott. When you hear something that doesnt sound right , Boycott, when you see a commercial on TV with an interracial couple boycott the company thats being advertised. This is how we stop the forward march of Satanism.


You weren’t far off till you got to “interracial couple”. Now you just turned yourself into a racist and bigot and lost every shred of credibility.


Actually NOT! Christians need to wake up to the truth about the forced integration of negros and whites through government and socialist indoctrination! The Bible is quite clear that it is against God’s law.

Mommy Gina

All races are interracial. All descended from one of Noah’s three sons, Shem, Ham, or Japheth. Moses married a dark-skinned Cushite of Ethiopia. Zipporah was not the “Ethiopian woman” herself. Zipporah was of the tribe of Midian. Genesis 25:1-3 shows that Midian was one of the six sons born unto Abraham by his third wife, Keturah. Thus, Zipporah was “Abrahamic”, who was “Shemitic” (i.e., descended of Noah’s son Shem, per Genesis 10:1; 11:11-27). But the “Ethiopian woman” (“Cushite woman” in the Hebrew) descended of Cush, who was “Hamitic” (i.e., descended of Noah’s son Ham, per Genesis 10:1,6). Indeed, Zipporah, being… Read more »


@Mommy Gina – AND you are nothing but an indoctrinated fool. NOWHERE in the Bible is there any reference to one of Noah’s sons being “black”. You entire claim is founded on misinterpretation – the doctrine of man. In Biblical times the negro was never referred to by country or nationality, they are referred to as behemah and chay. You would understand this if you actually spent time reading the ALL of the bible and researching the terminology of that time period! Ethiopians, Egyptians, etc. were nothing but darker complected “white” (races/tribes of) people due to the environment they lived… Read more »

Chuck B

An average Gator will weigh nearly 900 pounds. A horse will weight 1100-1300. That weight difference is NOT going to matter to the gator! A Lion or Tiger will attack a giraffe or an elephant. Sharks will go after whales. Tell me again how the weight of the horse will prevent a gator from attacking. Maybe a 9MM wasn’t the best way to go…but are we supposed to let a gator kill our family? Even if this had been the last gator in the world, if it were attacking my family, I’d destroy it! Timothy, the Gator had ATTACKED the… Read more »


Wrong! It was listed under the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966 (a precursor to the Endangered Species Act of 1973).

Additionally, the “Average” weight of the American Alligator is around 500+lbs, but the males can attain 900+ pounds!