Alligator attack season has begun in Florida. The Gainesville Sun has reported on the breaking news story of old “Three Legs” and his violent end:
James Wimmer did what he usually does to cool off Monday. At around 5 p.m., the air feeling like 99 degrees, he decided to jump in a creek.
His friend, J.C. Goodwin, said Wimmer stopped by the homeless campsite in the woods east of South Main Street to say hi before walking down to the water.
Goodwin, 52, didn’t think anything of it when he heard a splash.
Then came the screams. “It was this horrific roar,” he said.
Wimmer had been attacked by an alligator.
Goodwin ran down the bank, where he saw Wimmer backing away from a 9-foot alligator. Wimmer’s left shoulder was shredded, with deep teeth marks creating half-moon bites on his front and back. His arm hung limp as he tried to run away.
Goodwin grabbed a nearby cinder block, hoisted it and heaved it at the animal. The concrete block broke into pieces when it landed on the alligator’s head.
“I was just trying to get him to go the other way,” Goodwin said.
It worked. As Goodwin dragged his friend up the creek to a shallow bank, another friend used Wimmer’s cellphone to call for help.
Within minutes, emergency responders arrived and took Wimmer away to Shands at the University of Florida. As of late Monday night, authorities did not know the man’s condition, and the hospital did not report a man named James Wimmer as a patient.
An hour later, “Three Legs” the alligator was dead. When trappers from the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission arrived, the decision was made quickly.
“He was on death row,” Goodwin said.
Most people at the camp knew that Three Legs, named after the number of appendages he had, liked to hang around the creek.
To the community that lives in the homeless camp near the intersection of Williston Road and Southeast 16th Avenue, Three Legs was their mascot. He was almost a pet.
“I was sad they shot him,” said Jennifer Schoendignst, 31, who frequents the area and had seen Three Legs many times before.