A search is underway for an alligator that authorities say attacked a homeless man near Crane Creek in Melbourne
The man, known in the homeless community by his street name "Ron Jon," suffered a number of deep punctures along his shoulder as a result of a struggle with the alligator, Melbourne police said. The attack happened under a U.S. 1 overpass, in a fishing spot popular with the area homeless community.
“He was in the river and an alligator came up and grabbed him. It grabbed him by the shoulder,” said Cmdr. Dan Lynch of the Melbourne Police Department.
Police were training in the area at the time and heard what sounded like loud screams just after 9 a.m.
“The officers heard the screaming and found him on the bank of the river with significant gashes on his shoulder. We found him there on the shore,” Lynch said, of the man, who was conscious and in pain.
Paramedics responded to the scene and quickly treated the man. Florida Wildlife Commission officers were called and an immediate search for the alligator was undertaken. So far the alligator - whose size was not immediately known - has not been located. Several FWC boats were canvassing the river near the bridge.
One man, Marc Smith-Brown said he spotted the alligator before the attack. "I was standing up on the bridge and I happened to look that way," Smith-Brown said. "The head (of the gator)," he said, stretching out his hands to show width, "I kid you not, was that big." Smith-Brown, however, did not see the actual attack but knew that the victim was wading in the warm waters.
The man’s condition was not immediately known. He was rushed to Holmes Regional Medical Center for further treatment.The alligator attack is one of several reported in Florida this year.