An American woman killed by an alligator had told a friend she wanted to get close to the large reptile.

Police in South Carolina said 58-year-old Cynthia Covert had not screamed when the alligator grabbed her in its mouth and dragged her into a pond on Kiawah Island on Friday.

According to a friend she was staying with, Ms Covert had not seemed herself that day and had walked toward the alligator.

The animal was shot and killed by a police officer in an attempt to get Ms Covert away from it. Officers were called to the pond at about 5pm local time and saw the attack. The alligator’s body was retrieved to help with the investigation.

There have been three fatal alligator attacks in South Carolina over the past four years