Florida man attacked after jumping into pond full of crocodiles

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (WVLT) -- A Florida man was charged after officials say he broke into the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and spent four hours inside, including some time inside of a pond full of crocodiles.

Video surveillance captured the man, later identified as Brandon Hatfield, repeatedly jumping into the pit from a 20-foot roof and shows him swimming with the crocodiles.

The director of the farm, John Brueggen, told WJAX that workers found evidence of a break-in as they were getting the park ready for opening on Tuesday morning.

Lamps and signs were broken, WJAX reported, and a statue in the middle of the pit, only accessible by swimming, was toppled.

Park staff found a pair of shorts and a rubber "Crocs" shoe floating in the pit and thought it might be a prank.

According to WJAX, minutes after finding the shorts and shoe, they found "a lot" of blood at the top of the zipline platform, which overlooks the crocodiles.

An officer reportedly said, "Oh, I think we've already got the perpetrator in custody. We got somebody who told us they were bitten by an alligator."

Video also shows Hatfield climb onto the bank of the pond, where an approximately 9-foot crocodile lunged at him. In the report, the officer noted that Hatfield had no idea a crocodile tried to eat him.

He was sitting on the bank when a crocodile locked onto his left foot, and video shows Hatfield trying to fight off the animal and eventually getting away.

Hatfield was located in a nearby neighborhood only in his boxers. Police said he had blood on him.

A resident called 911 to report an unknown man "doing a slow, creeping crawl" on her property. "There’s a man with only gym shorts crawling," the caller said. "He's just crawling with his shorts halfway down his [butt] and no other clothes."

Another resident, Jeff Black, said his wife called the police on Hatfield.

"A little weird to see somebody that early in just boxers going over your wall into your property," he said. "He kept saying. 'I was held hostage in a pool with gators.'"

He says, 'Yeah, I got bit by alligators.' Everybody’s looking at him like, 'OK, he’s got to be on something,'" Black said.

When he was taken into custody, Hatfield was asked if he had been at the alligator farm, to which he replied, "Oh, no, sir, I wasn't."

According to the arrest report, Hatfield told officers an "old man had the alligator on a leash and he was surrounded by all these baby alligators in the old man's garage."

Hatfield was transported to a hospital with injuries to his leg and foot. WJAX reported they are not considered to be life-threatening.

Hatfield was charged with burglary, criminal mischief with more than $5,000 in damage and violation of probation.

According to Brueggen, the park has been open 125 years and has never had anyone jump into one of the exhibits.

"I would think he's on some sort of drugs," Brueggen said. "I'm concerned about an individual who literally climbs up a wall that's meant to keep you from crocodiles and leaps over the wall into the water with them."

None of the crocodiles were hurt.

Below is the security footage obtained by WJAX.