Man faces charges of assault and endangerment of a protected species.
Josh James, of Jupiter, Florida, has been arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon after tossing a 3.5-foot alligator he had picked up on the side of the road through the drive-through window at a fast food restaurant, according to WPTV News.
His parents, Ed and Linda James, say their son is a prankster and does stuff like this because he thinks it is funny, according to the story. James mother said, “It was just a stupid prank that he did that’s now turning into this. He’s a prankster.”
The younger James pulled up to the drive-through window at a Wendy’s in Royal Palm Beach last October, where the Florida Fish and Wildlife officers say he tossed the reptile after purchasing a soft drink. Officials were able to track James down through a credit card receipt for the soda and use of surveillance video. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s office says James is also facing charges related to the illegal killing, capture or possession of an alligator, and with petty theft.
Wildlife officials captured the reptile in the kitchen of the restaurant, taped its jaws shut and released it into a nearby canal. The American alligator is on the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s list of “species of special concern” in Florida.
The species was endangered in the 1950’s, due to hunting and loss of habitat, but conservation efforts led to the preservation of the species and in 1987, it was pronounced fully recovered. It was one of the first endangered species success stories, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. However, the animal is still a federally protected species, due to being similar to several species of crocodiles and caimans that are still in danger.
James’ mother Linda contends her son was not a violent person and it was just a prank. She added her son would cooperate fully and he had no problem turning himself in to authorities. James had no criminal history before the incident.
“He’s a stupid kid. He did a stupid prank,” said Mrs. James.