On Monday, faculty at a Florida Elementary School spotted one student that didn’t look quite like the others. A 6-foot alligator decided to camp out on school grounds, but its visit didn’t last very long.
Police soon arrived outside the door of Michigan Avenue Elementary School in St. Cloud, Florida, where “Gary the Gator” sat. Officers managed to safely restrain the scaly visitor without any injuries to either species, but it did cause quite the spectacle for students and teachers who were just arriving for the day.
According to the Florida elementary school’s assistant principal, Erin Williams, the faculty worked to redirect children and their parents from the alligator so that they can watch the incident from a safe distance.
On Facebook, the St. Cloud Police Department recounted the event and how School Resource Officer Stephen Burrows helped take care of the situation. The officer bound the gator’s hands and feet to ensure that the gator couldn’t hurt himself or others during transport.
“Gary the Gator was found trespassing on school grounds this morning,” the St. Cloud Police Department wrote. “SRO Burrows took Gary into custody before he was bonded out and released with strict instructions to never return to school property again!”
They also included photos of the accidental trespasser from surveillance footage.
Florida Officer Says the ‘Toughest Part’ of the Job Was ‘Making Sure Everyone Was Safe’
Of course, the alligator was the talk of the Florida elementary school. In fact, many found it hard to talk about anything else.
“Our students thought this was the greatest thing ever,” Williams told Fox News.
The students also gave the gator a name of their own.
“We affectionately named him ‘Zeus,’ because he’s a big dude,” Williams said.
Of course, the students couldn’t help but watch with awe as Burrows wrangled the alligator in front of the elementary school. As for Burrows, he didn’t think it was all that big of a deal.
“I really wasn’t scared,” Burrows said. “I knew there was a job that needed to be done, so I just did it – captured the gator with a catchpole, taped his mouth shut.”
Burrows said that the “toughest part was making sure everyone was safe.”
He later revealed that police released the reptile back into a canal away from the school. Thankfully, the story had a happy ending for all involved.
Community Responds to Gator Incident
Following the incident, the St. Cloud community shared their appreciation for Burrows and the St. Cloud Police Department in the comments of their post.
“Only in Florida is Gator Wrestling included in Police Job Descriptions,” one community member shared.
“You just never know what will happen when you are duty. Thanks officer Burrows!” another said.
“Wow that’s scary. Glad no one was hurt. Thanks to a great officer,” a third shared.