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Florida deputy shoots gator with AR-15, freeing girl trapped in tree

A Lake County deputy sheriff quickly put an end to a large alligator that had a teenage girl trapped in a tree for nearly an hour, authorities said Monday in Florida. (Alexandru Cuznetov/Dreamstime/TNS)

With a single shot from his AR-15 rifle, a Lake County deputy sheriff quickly put an end to a large alligator that had a teenage girl trapped in a tree for nearly an hour, authorities said Monday.

Jordan Broderick, 15, was eventually able to climb safely down from the tree, according to a sheriff’s report.

Just after 3 p.m. Friday, the Sheriff’s Office received calls from Michael Henderson of Titusville and other family members, saying that his daughter couldn’t come down from a tree near a boat ramp because a 10-foot alligator sat at the base of the tree hissing at her for more than 30 minutes, the report said.

“My daughter’s stuck in a frickin’ tree and there’s gators surrounding her!” the teenager’s mother said frantically to a 911 operator. “Oh my God! Please hurry! Please hurry!”

Jordan was floating on a raft in the creek near Forest Service Road near Alexander Springs park in the Ocala National Forest, 55 miles north of downtown Orlando, when the alligator quickly approached her, authorities said.

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That’s when the girl grabbed a large branch hanging over the water and climbed into the tree, according to the report. The alligator then waited in the water at the base of the tree underneath the girl hanging from the branch.

When Deputy Mitch Blackmon arrived, he found the girl in the tree screaming that she was tired from hanging on to the branch, the report said.

“My presence failed to scare the alligator away, and it began encroaching on my area at which time I fired one single 223 round from my Bushmaster AR15 killing the alligator,” Blackmon wrote in his report.

The alligator sank into the water and did not reappear, the report said. A Lake County marine biologist confirmed the alligator had died, according to authorities.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Fred Jones said July is when the alligator mating season is coming to a close and residents should be cautious along shorelines or in bodies of water.

“The end of mating season for alligators means that gators are acting more aggressive and territorial,” Jones said.

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© 2018 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.