A man charged for illegally catching a shark and punching it to death before posing for pictures with the lifeless animal has claimed he was trying to ‘resuscitate it and get the air out of its lungs’.
Granger Ray Wooten, 21, of Lafayette, Georgia, was spotted by officers near a pier in St Andrews State Park in Panama City, Florida, on October 24.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officers were in the area after receiving a tip-off that two men had caught a nine-foot hammerhead shark while fishing and dragged it to the shore.
When the officers arrived, they saw Wooten with one arm around the shark’s head and he was punching it with the other, the Panama City News Herald reports.
A man has been charged for illegally catching a hammerhead shark and punching it to death before posing for pictures with the lifeless animal (stock image)
‘The white male had his left arm around the shark’s head and was punching it repeatedly in the stomach,’ witness Robert Petty wrote in a sworn statement given to the FWC.
Petty’s statement also claimed that Wooten and another man dragged the dying fish farther onto shore in order to allow a young child to sit on top of it for a photo.
Wooten admitted to catching the shark when officers questioned him, but he originally denied having punched the animal.
However, when he was quizzed further on the incident after the officers saw the shark’s lifeless body floating under the pier, the 21-year-old said he was trying to save the animal by hitting it.
Granger Ray Wooten, 21, of Lafayette, Georgia, was spotted by officers near a pier in St Andrews State Park (pictured) in Panama City, Florida, on October 24
‘Mr. Wooten then changed his story and attempted to explain to me that he was punching the shark around the stomach area to get the air out of its lungs,’ an FWC officer wrote in a statement, according to the News Herald.
‘Then he said, “It’s kinda like doing CPR on a shark.” I explained to Mr. Wooten that if he wanted to revive the shark all he had to do was run water through the shark’s gills.’
The 21-year-old has been charged with taking a prohibited species, and is due to be arrainge on December 7.
The friend he was allegedly with has not been charged.
DailyMail.com contacted Wooten for comment, but he denied.