Man vacationing near Saginaw encounters alligator, kills it in self-defense

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TUSCOLA COUNTY, Mich. – A Detroit man shot an alligator while vacationing near Michigan's Thumb.

ORIGINAL STORY: Detroit man shoots alligator while vacationing near Saginaw

Derrick Fells was at his vacation home Saturday, just east of Saginaw, when he stumbled upon the alligator. The 6-foot-long predator lunged at him.

He said he's had the property for years, but has never experienced anything like this.

Fells said he has a family reunion scheduled on his property in the first weekend of August. About 30 children are expected to be present. 

"A 6-foot alligator can take an adult down and snack on them all week long," Fells said. "A child would be even easier."

Fells, with a cast on his dominant hand, shot and killed the gator from about 20 feet away.

"It was a shot I was proud of," Fells said. 

He immediately called 911 and met with deputies from the Tuscola County Sheriff's Office. The investigation revealed a neighbor runs an exotic pet refuge and had an alligator escape.

The alligator is now in Fells' freezer, waiting for a taxidermist. 

He's using it as a teaching moment for his grandchildren who will visit, insisting the children use the buddy system. 

"Even if you're going to the bathroom," Fells said. "Two people at the same time."

The Tuscola County Sheriff's department said Fells did nothing wrong in killing the alligator in self-defense. The county prosecutor is looking into whether or not the neighbor's exotic refuge is legal.

About the Authors:

Nick joined the Local 4 team in February of 2015. Prior to that he spent 6 years in Sacramento covering a long list of big stories including wildfires and earthquakes. Raised in Sterling Heights, he is no stranger to the deep history and pride Detroit has to offer.