Video shows crowd screaming as Florida man wrangles, captures large alligator by elementary school

A Florida man put on quite a show for a crowd of nearly 200 people gathered outside a Jacksonville elementary school as he wrangled a 10-foot alligator.

Mike Dragich, a local veteran and MMA fighter and licensed gator trapper was captured on video grabbing the large gator by the tail who stood his ground in a parking lot near the school. "We get there. I walked through the gate. And boom. There it was just ready to go right there in the parking lot, and we just had to get the job done," he said. 

Dragich, once again, attempted to drag the gator by the tail — this time dragging him a couple of inches before he got loose once again. 

He's then able to hook the gator by the neck and this is when the real fight begins. The crowd can be seen and heard screaming in what appears to be excitement or fear. 

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"I said it before, I felt like Batman, for real, you know, I show up. I walk out. There are a lot of comments saying I look like Stone Cold walking up to this alligator," Dragich told FOX 35. 


The video then shows Dragich, along with several firefighters sitting on the gator while three others assist in keeping the reptile down.

"A lot of fighters will understand that uh, when you go to the cage, you're nervous but once that cage door closes, you gotta be focused and honestly that's what I remembered from that night," Dragich said. 

Dragich, who is known as @bluecollar_brawler on social media, shared the video online which quickly went viral, getting more than 32,000 likes and hundreds of comments on Instagram. 

"I always tell people, be very careful and don't do what I'm doing on social media. But, I can promise you, that the animals are respected and they are dealt with in a professional manner each and every time, regardless of what it may look like on social media," Dragich said. 

There's a whole other side to this Florida man. Dragich joined the US Marine Corps after surviving a shooting as a teenager. He eventually became a MMA fighter, Now, Dragich is taking on a new fight – helping others who served our country.

"My heart goes to our veterans dealing with PTSD and the issue of veteran suicide," Dragich said. He started a nonprofit called, Project Savior Outdoors. The mission is to fight PTSD and veteran suicide by connecting with the great outdoors.

Dragich said he uses the gator videos he posts on social media to raise awareness for his movement. "It puts eyes on me and I want to use that opportunity to point it all to Jesus and get these veterans all the help that they need," Dragich said. 

Alligators in Florida

Alligators are located throughout Florida and should be presumed to be in any body of water, including lakes, ponds, swamps, rivers, and marshes. While they are considered to be opportunistic feeders, they do become more active in the spring and summer months as temperatures rise, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

Alligator safety tips

The FWC recommends the following alligator safety tips:

  • Keep a safe distance if you see an alligator
  • Keep pets on a leash and away from the edge of any body of water. Pets can be mistaken for an alligator's natural prey.
  • Swim only in designated areas, during daylight hours, and without pets.
  • Never feed an alligator. So, what do you do if you see an alligator? 

Florida Nuisance Alligator Hotline

The state of Florida has a Florida Nuisance Alligator Hotline where people can report nuisance alligators – and have a licensed trapper come out to remove the reptile. The Florida Nuisance Alligator Hotline number is 866-FWC Gator, or 866-392-4286.

According to the FWC's website, "an alligator is deemed a nuisance if it is at least 4 feet in length and the caller believes it poses a threat to people, pets or property." This also includes alligators that end up in places you do not want them to be, such as in swimming pools, garages, or on the front porch.

However, alligators that are smaller than four feet are not considered to be a nuisance alligator because they are "not large enough to be dangerous to people or pets," the FWC said.

Alligators are not relocated once captured; they are euthanized. The FWC said removing nuisance alligators does not have a significant impact on the overall gator population in Florida, and alligators would have to be relocated to remote areas where other alligators may live and have already determined their social structures.