A Texas man who was warned not to swim in a river due to an alligator sighting, but jumped in anyway, was attacked and killed early Friday near the Louisiana border, police told BuzzFeed News.
Tommie Woodward, 28, was at an outdoor bar at a marina in Orange, Texas, around 2:30 a.m. local time when he defied a sign warning of alligators and entered the bayou waters.
Employees at the marina had erected the sign in recent days after spotting a "pretty damn big" 11-foot alligator in the area, Orange County Police Captain Robert Enmon told BuzzFeed News.
A woman with Woodward warned him not to enter the water because of the risk, prompting him to reply "Fuck that alligator," Enmon said.
Just before he jumped in, the woman spotted the gator, Enmon said. Woodward was attacked almost immediately.
"It was pretty much immediate," Enmon told BuzzFeed News. "He had puncture marks on his upper right shoulder, and his left arm and elbow received severe damage. The alligator pulled him down and he came back up yelling."
The woman he was with heard him screaming for help, local authorities told KFDM-TV, and jumped into the water in an apparent attempt to save him. When she was unsuccessful, she screamed for help.
Marine employee Michelle Wright told CNN she rushed to the water with a flashlight and saw his body floating face down.
Police later fished his body out of the water from a boat, Enmon said.
"Alligators are extremely common around here," Enmon told BuzzFeed News, "but in my 25 years on the job this is the first fatality I'm aware of."
Enmon said police are awaiting toxicology tests, but that alcohol may have been a factor in the man's decision to enter the water.
Kent Robnett, of Orange Texas, confessed Wednesday to trapping and killing the alligator. He allegedly set the trap on Saturday and once he caught the reptile, he shot it in the head.
"I knew I was breaking the law," he told ABC13. But he said he did it because the 11.5-foot gator was dangerous and just "too big."
"I have a one year old, a 3 year old, and a 14 year old who swim out here," he said. "He was just too big."
Robnett's action is punishable by a fine of up to $500. Authorities have not yet decided if they will ticket Robnett.
Friends described Woodword on a memorial Facebook page as an "avid beer connoisseur, [who] loved fishing, swimming, camping, grilling and being outdoors period! Hard Working and helped people even if he had to give them the shirt off his back!"
Ema O'Connor is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
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David Mack is a reporter and weekend editor for BuzzFeed News in New York.
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