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Alligator that attacked woman captured in St. Petersburg

Investigators say the woman fell into a canal. A human body part was discovered inside the gator.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The alligator responsible for attacking a woman Monday morning and leaving her with severe injuries has been caught and killed.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission confirmed the gator caught was the same one that attacked the woman. 

Lt. Steven Lawrence with St. Petersburg Fire Rescue told 10 Tampa Bay an autopsy of the gator involved in the attack found a human body part inside. 

FWC reports the alligator captured was 10-feet, 11-inches in length. A permit was issued to a contracted nuisance alligator trapper to authorize the animal's removal.

The attack happened just before 6 a.m. near the Family Dollar on 4th Street S. at 17th Avenue S.

Investigators say a woman experiencing homelessness was resting on a seawall and fell into a canal. The alligator then attacked he, and she screamed for help. A passerby heard her and called the police. 

The woman was transported to a local hospital with severe injuries to her arms.

St. Petersburg Fire Rescue saved the woman with the help of the police. First responders were concerned the animal would attack again while they worked to remove the woman from the mangroves. 

"It took an extra 5-10 minutes to get to where we could reach her and get her out and extricate her safely," Lawrence said.

While firefighters made their way to the woman, police officers were standing by with their guns drawn. 

"They did have their rifles and shotguns because they were afraid the gator may come back and make a second attack," Lawrence said. "So as we're performing rescue functions, they were standing as armed guards to protect the rescuers and the victim until we could fully extricate her."

The gator was removed from a canal called Salt Creek. A local business owner said it is common to gators in the area. 

"They come out of Lake Maggiore and they don't go much further than this because it turns to salt and they just go back and forth," Dale Mastry said.

Mastry owns Mastry's Tackle and Fresh Seafood. He has had his business there, right on the creek for 46 years. Over the decades, he said this wasn't the first time trappers were sent out. 

"Yeah, [there are gators] anywhere from 2 feet to 11 to 12 feet," Mastry said. "They've caught them out of here for years. Every now and then they'll bring a trapper here and remove them." 

The FWC says serious injuries caused by alligators are rare in Florida. The organization has a specialized program to "proactively address alligator threats in developed areas, while conserving alligators in areas where they naturally occur."

If you have a concern about an alligator, you can call 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286). Learn more about the Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program on the FWC website.

Editor's note: Investigators earlier said the woman was sleeping in the mangroves when she was attacked. They have since said she was resting on a seawall, fell into the canal and was attacked.

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