Brandon Hatfield
SJSO
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November 06, 2018 11:03 PM

Employees at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park were left baffled when they came across a floating Croc shoe and discarded clothes in the facility’s crocodile pit Tuesday morning.

Desperate for answers, St. Augustine staff members took a look at the park’s security footage and discovered a man had broken into the farm and jumped off a roof into the crocodile exhibit, which is home to three 12-foot Nile crocodiles, News 4 Jax reported.

When the employees contacted the police, officers had just responded to an incident in which a man, wearing nothing but underwear, was seen crawling on the lawn in a “concealed manner” near the park, the St. Augustine Police Department said in a statement.

The man, who police identified as the suspect caught on camera at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm, sustained significant injuries to his feet and legs — believed to be crocodile bites. The suspect has since been identified as Brandon Keith Hatfield.

When questioned by police, Hatfield allegedly said he had been attacked by an alligator, according to The Florida Times-Union. He then reportedly told officers he ran into an old man who was walking an alligator on a leash and was all of a sudden “surrounded by all these baby alligators.”

St. Augustine Alligator Farm
Wikimedia

In addition to flinging himself into the crocodile exhibit, police say Hatfield, 23, allegedly “damaged numerous exhibits and statues around the complex causing an excess of $5,000 in damage.”

In another surveillance video, the man can be seen standing on top of a statue before jumping on a tree. That is when he comes into contact with one of the crocodiles, which explains his injuries, Jay Ruditis, who handles the security videos for the park told News 4 Jax.

“Watch behind him, there’s a croc trying to attack him,” Ruditis told the new station describing the footage. “Now it’s dragging him. He will get on the shore. It’s got his foot right now. It has a good hold on his leg. It’s kind of pulling him in. The croc will flip him, a little death roll in a moment. The croc still has him, so what he does is tries to kick it with his foot,” Ruditis explained to News 4 Jax.

The individual eventually escaped the pit, leading him to seek refuge on the nearby lawn on Holly Lane.

“A little weird to see somebody that early in just boxers going over your wall into your property saying ‘I was held hostage in a pool with gators,” Jeff Black told CBS 47 about finding Hatfield on his lawn.

“He says, ‘Yeah, I got bit by alligators.’ Everybody’s looking at him like, ‘OK, he’s got to be on something,'” Black told the news station.

St. Augustine Police explained Hatfield was transported to Flagler Hospital “for further medical attention.” Following his release, he will be moved to St. John’s County Jail.

RELATED: Before Haramabe: 10 Other Cases of Humans Venturing into Zoo Exhibits

Hatfield has been charged with Burglary, Criminal Mischief and Violation of Probation. It is not clear if Hatfield has legal representation.

While police are still trying to understand how and why Hatfield ended up in the crocodile pit they believe “he was possibly high on something,” according to KTVB 7.

St. Augustine Alligator Farm did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

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