Police in Kansas City shot an alligator twice in the head before realising it was a garden ornament. A passer-by reported the creature to officials after seeing the scaly toy near a pond.
"And when they saw the 'creature' in the grass, they were quick to reach for their rifle and shoot it twice in the head.
It was only when the second shot bounced off the alligator the officers realised it was made out of concrete.
Police spokesman Tom Gentry said officers were acting on the advice of state conservation agents.
"Being late in the evening as it was, it was difficult to tell if the animal was real or not," he said.
"In hindsight, it's humorous. But we have to take every call seriously."
Homeowner Rick Sheridan told police that he placed the ornament by the pond to keep children away.
"There are no alligators around here, we are too far north, it's too cold," said Bill Graham, spokesman for the Missouri Department of Conservation."