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Officer Shoots 52-Inch Rattler That Was Ready to Strike Child

TIMES STAFF WRITER

An off-duty Los Angeles police officer shot a rattlesnake as it was about to strike his fiancee’s 2-year-old child in Woodland Hills, the officer said Tuesday.

Officer Mike Grasso said he drew his 9-millimeter service weapon and shot the snake once in the head as it was coiled and ready to strike the girl outside her grandparents’ home on Winnetka Avenue near Wells Drive.

Grasso, 33, of Chatsworth said he first saw the 52-inch snake on the front porch of his fiancee’s home about 3 p.m. Saturday.

“The baby ran up ahead of us and the baby stopped dead and said ‘Snake, mommy.’ She’s been seeing ‘Jungle Book’ so I thought it could have been anything,” Grasso said.

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“Then I stopped and looked over her shoulder and there, just two feet in front of her, was a California diamondback--a big one,” Grasso said. “He started rattling really heavy. He coiled and was about to unwind so I grabbed her up off the ground, then I reached into my waistband and pulled out my pistol and fired one round. I hit it right behind the head,” killing it instantly.

“I was told afterward that her being 25 pounds, with a snakebite from a 52-inch snake she could have died,” Grasso said.

Grasso, a senior pistol instructor with the department, attributes his accuracy to “lots of practice and even more luck.”


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