INDEPENDENCE, Mo. —Police responding to a rare alligator sighting in suburban Kansas City took quick action to dispatch the beast, shooting it in the head, as instructed, while it lurked menacingly in the weeds leading down to a pond.
It wasn't until a second rifle shot bounced off the reptile's head that the officers realized they had mortally wounded a concrete lawn ornament.
A resident of a subdivision near the pond called police Saturday evening to report that his children spotted the alligator while they were playing in some nearby woods.
After consulting a conservation agent, who told them to kill the gator if they felt it posed a danger, one of the officers shot it twice in the head before realizing something was up, said Tom Gentry, an Independence police spokesman.
"It didn't move," Gentry said. "They inched up closer and closer and discovered it was a mock-up of a real alligator made to look like it was real."
In the officers' defense, it was growing dark when they shot the fake gator and it was partially submerged in the weeds.