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Wash. Deputies Find Gators Guarding Large Pot Stash

Thurston County sheriff's deputies called to a house near Olympia on the report of a shooting Monday night were quick to edge away from a room after being greeted by two hissing alligators guarding a large marijuana stash.

Alligators, a pot-growing operation, an exotic dancer and gunfire were all elements of the criminal investigation inside the house in the normally quiet Scott Lake neighborhood. Sheriff's spokesman Lt. Greg Elwin said that at one point a detective compared the scene to a Hollywood film.

Elwin said two detectives were called to the house in the 12100 block of Champion Drive Southwest around 8:45 p.m. Investigators were greeted by a 41-year-old man who lives there. The man said he had opened fire in self-defense after someone tried to run him over outside his home, Elwin said.

But investigators believe the man actually had shot at a car that had pulled up outside, in an ambush-style attack, Elwin said. A 30-year-old man later showed up at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia with a gunshot wound to the arm and a bullet-grazing injury to his back.

While inside the home, investigators found a floor-to-ceiling brass pole and talked to an exotic dancer, Elwin said.

When they tried to walk into another room they were met by two 5-foot-long alligators hissing at them from the floor.

"They were there for protection for the marijuana grow area. They were just crawling around on the floor," Elwin said. The detectives immediately shut the door.

The man at the house, who was arrested for investigation of attempted murder, offered to help the detectives corral his gators. He managed to get them into a bathroom, where they were left in the water-filled bathtub.

Because it wasn't clear how long the alligators would be there, they were left with some raw chicken parts to gnaw on, Elwin said.

Thurston County Animal Control officials have been contacted, he said.

"We don't know what the legalities are of keeping alligators; it could be just fine," he added.

Copyright 2012 - The Seattle Times

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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