*NEWS*2 MEN ACCUSED OF FREEING GATOR
*NEWS*2 MEN ACCUSED OF FREEING GATOR
2005-08-30 at 10:03:00 am #12502
Two men accused of freeing gator in lake
LOS ANGELES – Two men, one a
former Los Angeles police officer, were arrested for allegedly
conspiring to release an alligator in a small lake, prompting the city
to bring in reptile wranglers, keep crowds at bay and impose heavy
patrols, police said Wednesday.
A tip from the public led to the
arrest of Anthony Brewer, 36, and Todd Natow, 42, following raids at
separate homes in the San Pedro area, said Jim McDonnell, assistant
chief for the Los Angeles Police Department.
Police said Brewer gave the
alligator — named ”Reggie” — to Natow, a former LAPD officer, who
then released it in the South Los Angeles lake about 20 miles south of
Natow, who started with the LAPD in 1984, left the department in 2001 for reasons that weren’t clear, McDonnell said.
Councilwoman Janice Hahn said attempts to capture the gator and to patrol the lake cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.
”This beautiful lake is not a
place to dump your animals when they grow too large for your back yard
or aquarium,” she said at a Wednesday news conference.
Brewer was arrested Tuesday at a
home in which officials found evidence of an alligator habitat,
photographs of alligators, narcotics and two live snapping turtles,
Natow, who was arrested early
Wednesday, had numerous animals, including three alligators, four
piranha fish, one rattlesnake, three desert tortoises, six desert
tortoise eggs and one scorpion. He also had six marijuana plants,
The confiscated animals were in the care of the state Department of Fish and Game.
Meanwhile, the lake alligator
remained at large. Three wrestlers and a cameraman from Gatorland in
Orlando began scouring Machado Lake on Tuesday.
The Florida crew offered to do the
job for free (travel expenses not included), and even will drive the
reptile back to Gatorland if the city decides not to keep it. The
attempt follows an unsuccessful search last week by Colorado-based
gator wrangler Jay Young, who tried for two days and was paid $1,600.
”We have a 110-acre park where
alligators live a long, happy, sheltered life,” Gatorland spokeswoman
Michelle Harris said. ”We think he would make a nice fit.”
The gator — who’s been nicknamed
”Carlito” and ”Harbor Park Harry” — could be housed in an
exhibition area with two other gators ”captured from notorious
backgrounds,” Harris said. One was seized in Miami and one is known to
eat dogs, she said.
”They offered to take it back,
but we haven’t decided that’s the right thing to do,” Hahn said.
”After all, it’s an L.A. gator.”
The creature was first spotted
Aug. 12, and officials initially believed it was a close alligator
relative from the Amazon called a caiman.
Crowds gathered around the cordoned lake, binoculars in hand, in hopes of a sighting.
Some lobbed tempting treats,
including tortillas, french bread, jelly doughnuts and raw chicken.
Vendors began selling T-shirts with an alligator logo and the tagline:
”You will never catch me!!”
Television crews staked out the
lake, but the gator has generally been camera shy. Rarely have people
seen much more than its eyes poking above the water line in recent days.
Tim Williams, Gatorland’s
so-called gator guru and dean of gator wrestling, said all the
attention visitors have been lavishing on the lake creature won’t lure
the reptile. What will, he said, is grunting out a gator call.
”The eyes glow red at night and
when you grunt ‘em, it’s just a gruntin’ call,” said Williams, who
claims to have spent 30 years wrestling gators. He demonstrated the
call by making a rapid guttural noise that sounded like someone trying
not to throw up.
”We’ll try to hunt him at night,
get close, either get a noose or grab him,” Williams said. ”He’s not
that big, and then we’ll go from there.”