Alligator attacks fleeing suspect in Florida; Police catch up to him in hospital

Neighbors say gator was watching out for her eggs

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 claims he became part of an alligator's breakfast.

Pinellas County deputies in Florida pulled over Zuniga around 2:45 a.m. for failing to stay in 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.

At the hospital, 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 7NEWS sister station WFTS in Tampa on the condition of anonymity.

"Karma! Karma comes back at you," said one neighbor. "When you do trouble, trouble comes to you."

According to another neighbor, Zuniga is referred to around the neighborhood as "the little punk."  That neighbor also declined to comment on camera.

WFTS 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" watches 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 $6,500 bond and will go before a judge Friday morning.
 

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