A 20-year-old Louisiana man who jumped into the alligator exhibit at Busch Gardens and posted a video of the stunt on social media will avoid a felony conviction if he completes the terms of a pretrial intervention agreement approved last week.
Jacob Ryan Pursifull of Prairieville, Louisiana, was arrested on June 5, four days after he jumped over a fence to get into the park and jumped over another fence to get into the gator exhibit as another person shot video, which was then posted on TikTok, according to police. Prosecutors charged Pursifull and two co-defendants with burglary and petty theft. Pursifull was also charged with trespassing.
The burglary charge is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison.
Judge Michael S. Williams last Monday approved the agreement struck by the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office and Pursifull’s attorney.
As part of the agreement, Pursifull must complete 75 hours of community service, pay $134.99 in restitution to Busch Gardens, submit a letter of apology to the park and take down “all social media posts/podcasts” related to the stunt. He must also have no contact with the park, among other conditions.
Erin Maloney, a spokesperson for the state attorney’s office, said in an email that Pursifull did not have a prior criminal record and that Busch Gardens “was satisfied with the resolution.”
Representatives for Busch Gardens did not respond to emails seeking comment.
Pursifull’s attorney, Barry Taracks, did not respond to messages left at his Tampa office.
To be eligible for the felony pretrial intervention program, an applicant must have no prior adult felony arrests and no more than one prior conviction for a nonviolent misdemeanor. The state attorney’s office closes the case when the agreement is approved and can reopen it and pursue the original charges if the defendant does not meet the terms of the deal.
The cases of Pursifull’s co-defendants, Lennon Miller, 19, and Christian Gonzalez, 18, were still pending this week, records show.
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Within days of Pursifull’s stunt, Busch Gardens installed higher fencing around the alligator exhibit.