A U.S. Army veteran has become the newest “Florida Man” sensation after a video of him seen catching an alligator with a trash can went viral.
“The only thing that came to my mind was to protect my kids and the other children outside,” Eugene Bozzi, 26, told USA Today.
How’d he do it?
“Army training kicked in,” he told CBS3 in Philadelphia.
“Just get it done, drop him there and keep it moving,” said Bozzi, a Philadelphia native.
According to ABC7NY.com, Bozzi’s kids were riding bikes and playing outside his Orange County, Florida home when Bozzi’s daughter alerted him to the unwanted intruder.
“My daughter came and got me. I couldn’t really see it, so I got close upon it, and he backed up a little bit, and I was like, ‘he’s kind of big,’” Bozzi told ABC News. From there, Bozzi lept into action to defend his children, well, as far as he could leap in flip flops, that is.
“I was gonna put my shoes on. I had flip-flops on; everybody’s making fun of me (for that),” Bozzi said. To combat the interloping predator, Bozzi accented his combat-flip flops with a weapon of opportunity.
“Let me get the trash can!” he said.
From there, the fight between Bozzi and the ancient predator was on. It was claws and power full jaws versus flip flops and the finest anti-alligator ordinance on the market: a city-issued trash can.
Using the trash can, Bozzi was able to back the alligator up while waiting for the gator to approach the can. Once the alligator’s head was inside the can, he dropped the lid, causing the animal to jump inside, trapping it.
“It felt like two six-year-old boys trying to get out of there. You know six-year-old boys, you can’t hold them down,” Bozzi told WPVI-TV in Philadelphia.
Having removed the threat to his children, the next question was what to do with an alligator trapped in a trash can. According to ABC News, Bozzi, who grew up in North Philadelphia and lived in Florida for about a year, had the answer. He would walk it to where he thought it came from: the waterline across the street from his house.
When Bozzi approached the waterline, he told ABC News that it was the first time he was scared during the whole confrontation.
“When I got down to the hill, I thought ‘if I’m dropping him off, there might be three more in the bushes,’” Bozzi said.
So, Bozzi quickly dropped the can and ran, returning moments later to collect both his can and the trash that had spilled out due to the encounter.
No humans or alligators were harmed during the brief but intense encounter, precisely how Bozzi wanted it.
“I love all animals. I don’t care how vicious they are, how heavy they are, how small they are; we’re connected somehow. We’re on this planet. I think it was my duty to protect everybody and the animal came out alright,” Bozzi said.
Bozzi’s gator grappling became such a famous Florida Man incident that it even inspired a song.
Written by Jonathan Mann, who calls himself the “Song A Day Mann” and claims to have written a song a day for “12 years and 277 days” (that’s 4,657 songs for those keeping score), his ode to Bozzi has garnered more than 177,000 views on YouTube.
James R. Webb is a rapid response reporter for Military Times. He served as a US Marine infantryman in Iraq. Additionally, he has worked as a Legislative Assistant in the US Senate and as an embedded photographer in Afghanistan.