Burglary suspect killed by 11-foot gator while fleeing Brevard deputies

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — A burglary suspect was able to escape deputies, but not a hungry 11-foot alligator, Brevard County authorities said.

Matthew Riggins’ body was identified on Monday after he was found in a Barefoot Bay lake on Nov. 23. Investigators said Riggins drowned as a result of an alligator attack while running from deputies.

Investigators said Riggins told his girlfriend on Nov. 13 that he and another man were going to burglarize homes in the area of Tequesta Drive in Barefoot Bay.

A witness called deputies after seeing two suspicious-looking men on Royal Palm Boulevard.

“Dispatch got a call from a resident that said they saw two males in all black walking behind residences,” said Maj. Tod Goodyear of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office.

Riggins and his alleged accomplice ran from deputies into a wooded area and were never found.

Deputies later learned Riggins had called his girlfriend while he was being chased.

Riggins was reported missing to the Palm Bay Police Department the next day when he didn’t return home.

“It’s pretty crazy because first the burglary happened, and then we hear that someone died that possibly was involved,” said nearby resident Nick Pellizzi.

During the recovery of his body, which was spotted just north of Ocean Avenue Way, dive teams encountered an 11-foot alligator near the body.

Florida Fish and Wildlife caught the animal and had it euthanized.

Reports said that the, “forensic examination of the alligator located remains consistent with the injuries to Riggins inside the alligator’s stomach.”

“So at that point, we had a belief that he was probably attacked by the alligator when he was trying to get away from police,” said Goodyear.

Deputies said they’ve located Riggins’ alleged accomplice, who is refusing to cooperate with the investigation.

Anyone with more information about the investigation is asked to call CRIMELINE at 1-800-423-TIPS (8477).