Large alligator blocks door to Central Florida elementary school

Kids and staff headed to school in St. Cloud on Monday morning were stopped at the front door by a 6-foot alligator!

St. Cloud police say the gator was spotted around 7:30 a.m. at Michigan Avenue Elementary School. 

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Assistant Principal Erin Williams said they spotted the gator just after 7 o’clock Monday morning. 

"Toughest part was making sure everyone was safe," said St. Cloud police officer Stephen Burrows, noting that the reptile was right outside the cafeteria door. "I really wasn’t scared. I knew there was a job that needed to be done, so I just did it - captured the gator with a catchpole, taped his mouth shut."

As officers were busy trapping the gator, Williams said she was busy directing parents and students away from it all. "We redirected traffic because we had ‘arrival’ that was getting ready to start."  She said the students watched safely, from a distance. "Our students thought this was the greatest thing ever! They’re looking out the windows in their cars! They’re screaming at us!"
It was all caught on a surveillance camera.  Williams said she is grateful to the school resource officers for their help trapping the gator. "We’re very thankful!"

Officers said they released the gator back into a canal off Neptune Rd. As for Williams, she said this was a real-life learning lesson for all the students. "We affectionately named him ‘Zeus,' because he’s a big dude!"

No injuries were reported by police. 

According to Florida Fish and Wildlife, alligator mating season is underway, which means alligators are active and more visible during the months of May and June.