PLANT CITY, Fla. (970 WFLA) – The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office says a deputy shot a gator fearing it would go after a man’s body who was found deceased at a Plant City park.

Deputies say it happened Wednesday night just after 7 p.m. Officials say a park ranger at Edward Medard Park discovered the man and when deputies arrived, they found him down a trail near the shoreline of the lake, laying partially in the water near a tackle box and fishing pole. Deputies say there were no visible signs of trauma to the body and the official cause of death is pending autopsy.

During their investigation, deputies say they noticed a lot of gator activity which increased as daylight faded. While waiting for the medical examiner's office to respond, one alligator (6-8 feet long) began circling in front of the deceased and then began swimming directly towards him. 

Fearing that the body was possibly about to be tampered with, if not lost all together, HCSO authorities say one deputy discharged one round and struck the alligator in the skull just behind the right eye. After being struck, officials say the alligator immediately ducked under water and wasn’t seen again.

FWC was notified.

[File] Photo Credit Getty Images