Thurston County sheriff's Lt. Greg Elwin said deputies responded to the scene in the Scott Lake area south of Olympia when a man called 911 to say he had shot another man.
The shooter told deputies that he fired in self defense, but investigators now believe otherwise.
Detectives say the victim had been doing maintenance work at the shooter's home, and there was a dispute, allegedly over paying for the work in cash and prescription drugs. The gunman, according to investigators, had threatened to fill the victim with holes.
After the shooting, the 30-year-old victim drove, bleeding, to his father's house nearby. Medics took him to Providence St. Peter Hospital where he is expected to recover.
The alleged gunman, identified as 41-year-old Darren C. Shore, was booked into jail for investigation of attempted murder.
Shore's mother was on hand as he appeared in court Tuesday. The woman said her son uses medical marijuana for crippling back pain and joint problems. She added the allegations don't make any sense.
"Darren's always been a kind person, and this it totally out of character for him," said Ellie Pierson-Sutter.
Elwin said the alligators found by deputies were likely being used to protect the drugs. The sheriff's office is working with county Animal Services to determine what will happen to the alligators.