Two Fort Worth fishermen charged in the killing of a large alligator say they were protecting themselves and never intended to commit any crime.
Keyon Ivory, 31, and his friend, Patrick Miller, 34, said they panicked when they encountered the gator while fishing earlier this month along the Trinity River near the Fort Worth Nature Center.
"I was in the front seat here, steering," Ivory said, pointing to his small bass boat.
Suddenly, he saw the alligator rising from the water, he said. He said it was "a huge one; I mean, bigger than the boat we were on."
The boat is 10 feet long. The alligator was 11.
"I was scared. I was very scared," Miller said. "When it started coming towards us, that's when we really got scared."
The men said they feared for their lives and jumped out of the boat.
"I instantly panicked," Ivory said. "My heart raced a beat, you know. I mean us, everyday guys, we don't see something like that on the water every day."
Miller admitted that he shot the gator with a gun he brought to protect himself. He said he brought the gun with him because it was new and he didn't want someone to steal it from his car.
Ivory then called 911 to report what had just happened.
"We tried doing the right thing," Miller said.
"Oh my God, it's a huge alligator," one of the men said in the 911 call. "He is in the water right now."
Ivory: "That thing is dead in the water. It's dead in the water. I know my buddy got it, because it rolled."
Dispatcher: "So, it's dead or is it alive?"
Ivory: "Well yeah, we don't see it; it's dead in the water, though. It came up and rolled, and he took another shot at it, and he hit it. It's a huge gator, though, Jesus. Wow, man!"
Ivory: "Oh my God, there's another one right there.
Dispatcher: "OK, we'll figure out soon there sir."
Ivory: "There's another one over there!"
Dispatcher: "Hang on sir just don't get in the water."
Ivory: "No it ain't it looks like one, but that's not it."
Keyon Ivory: "And this huge gator just like came straight at us. You we (inaudible) snakes and stuff like that, but we weren't expecting this."
Ivory and Miller waited for sheriff's deputies to arrive and said they fully cooperated.
But later, Texas game wardens investigated and found that what the men did was a crime.
The men initially claimed in the 911 call that they had been attacked, but the investigation revealed they were not attacked, said Texas Parks and Wildlife Department spokesman Mike Cox.
Ivory got tickets for having an unregistered boat and not having life preservers.
Miller was cited for illegal hunting and fined $5,300.
He said he cannot pay the fine.
"We just don't want to go to jail," Ivory said.
Both men apologized for what they did, even though they thought at the time they were protecting themselves, they said.
"Most of all, we have our remorse for it," Ivory said. "I want to apologize, like I say, over and over again to the Nature Center about it because we're not no poachers. We would never harm anything. We would never shoot an innocent bird."
They both said they have had nightmares since the incident.
Animal experts say most alligators do not pose a threat to people.
NBC 5's Andrew Tanielian contributed to this report.