The neighbors tried to warn her.
But Elsie Troia was already headed to the garage. She was hoping to find some nails to hang a picture.
Instead, she found a 7-foot, 9-inch alligator.
The neighbors heard her scream.
“When I saw him at the door, I was like ‘Oh, my God,’ ” said Elsie Troia.
Elsie’s husband, Al Troia, had left the garage door open Monday around noon after running a few errands.
One might think that since Al Troia lives on the 3rd hole of the Flamingo Course at Lely Resort he has seen a lot of gators.
But that’s not the case.
“I’ve lived here six years and this is the first time I ever saw one,” said Troia, who is originally from Boston.
And he never expected that his first experience with a gator would be in his garage.
“I don’t think I have alligator collision insurance,” Al Troia said.
The gator had found its way to the back of Troia’s garage after some teens spooked it from the street, according to neighbor Richard Droste.
“It took off and went right in the garage,” he said.
Droste then called the Troias to let them know, but Elsie Troia had already discovered the reptile.
“I tried to warn them,” Droste said.
Even though Al Troia said he had never seen a gator, Droste, 68, has seen plenty during his 13 years in the neighborhood. Droste said he has spotted the gator before and recognized it by the yellow stripe down its tail.
“He has been in that pond for quite a while,” he said pointing across the street to a pond about 50 yards from the Troia’s garage.
However, Droste has more to worry about than just an unwelcome visit from the scaly animal.
His 4-year-old silver lab, Lucy, roams the backyard freely, and seeing gators around has concerned him in the past for her safety.
“Whenever I let the dog out I always check the pond,” he said. “You just never know.”
As the Troias waited for the trapper, neighbors gathered outside of the house waiting to catch a glimpse of the unwanted visitor.
When the trapper arrived an hour later, they had to back Troia’s gray Acura out of the garage in order to get to the alligator.
During the removal, minimal damage was done to a shoe rack in the garage.
“Oh, almighty,” Al Troia said as they dragged the hissing animal down the driveway.
While in the garage, the gator didn’t seem to be aggressive. “They don’t get crazy unless you get crazy,” Droste said.