WEST PALM BEACH | Alligators have been used as shoes, briefcases, university mascots, as lunch, and now, according to authorities, as a deadly weapon.
Joshua James, 24, was arrested Monday and charged with assault with deadly weapons without intent to kill after Florida Fish and Wildlife officials said he threw a 3.5-foot alligator through Wendy’s driveway window in October in Palm Beach County. He is also charged with illegal possession of an alligator and petty theft. Prison records show he was released on $ 6,000 bail on Tuesday. He was ordered not to contact animals.
Wildlife Conservation Officer Nicholas Guerin said in his report that James drove his pickup truck to the window at approximately 1:20 am on October 11. After the employee handed James his drink, he threw the alligator out the window and left. No harm done. Guerin caught the alligator and set him free. Guerin said James was tracked down using video surveillance and shopping at a nearby store.
Guerin wrote that James admitted dumping the alligator in an interview in December. He said that James told him that he found an alligator on the side of the road and put it in his truck.
James’ mother, Linda James, told WPTV that her son’s actions were “a stupid prank.”
“He does things like this because he thinks it’s funny,” she said. She said he meant no harm and “gave up without any problems.” No one opened the door to the houses belonging to the James family. The phones listed for the family have been disconnected.
James P. Ross, a retired scientist with the Department of Ecology and Wildlife at the University of Florida, said the 3.5-foot alligator is likely to weigh 20 to 30 pounds, and its solid body could take a serious hit if it does anyone -will hit.
He said an alligator bite would be comparable to a dog bite and unlikely to cause serious injury or tear a finger, although it could tear tendons. Perhaps the biggest concern is infection if the bite is left untreated, he said.
“It is unlikely that an alligator will ‘attack’ people and will most likely be in a very traumatized and frightened defense mode,” he said. “He could, and likely will, snapping and throwing at anyone who gets close to him, and could stick his head and jaws 12-18 inches in any direction.”