Alligators found guarding Olympia marijuana grow

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on November 27, 2012 at 8:45 AM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 27 at 7:05 PM

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Police said it was one of the strangest shooting scenes they've come across. Sheriff’s deputies responding to a shooting Monday night near Olympia discovered a marijuana grow operation inside the house, along with two alligators and a stripper pole.

The shooting happened in the Scott Lake area. The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office said it started as a dispute between the 41-year-old homeowner and a 30-year-old neighbor.

The 30-year-old was shot twice. He was taken to Providence St. Peter Hospital for minor gunshot wounds and released Tuesday morning.

The 41-year-old shooting suspect, identified as Darren Shore, told police he had fired in self defense. He was arrested on investigation of attempted first-degree murder. 

Inside the home, investigators found 15 marijuana plants and two five-foot long alligators, purportedly meant to protect the pot. The suspect helped police lure the alligators into a tub in the bathroom while deputies conducted their investigation.

Police believe the incident may have been a drug deal that turned violent. Neighbors who have known Shore for years laugh it off.

"That's far from the truth. The alligators he's had long before the medical marijuana," said Greg Garrison, neighbor.

Shore's mother said her son is on disability and has been prescribed medical marijuana for his chronic back issues and carpel tunnel syndrome. She also says he's always had an affinity for reptiles.

"He had one since it was a baby and he had it before it was banned in the state of Oregon," said Ellie Pierson-Sutter, Shore's mother. "And then a friend had the other who went through a divorce and couldn't keep it."

Inside the home, detectives also found a brass pole that had been erected in the living room. They said Shore's girlfriend is an exotic dancer, who will now be caring for the two alligators at the home while Shore is in jail facing attempted homicide charges.

"Well, the alligators get to stay just as if they were dogs in a house," said Lt. Greg Elwin, Thurston County Sheriff's Office. "They're legal to possess. And since there will be somebody there to take care of them, feed them more chicken parts and give them water, they'll stay."

Shore's mother said she knows nothing about the pole or Shore's girlfriend. According to court documents, the victim had been asking Shore for Vicodin.

Shore appeared in court on Tuesday. Judge has set bail for Shore at $200,000.

KING 5's Travis Pittman, Elisa Hahn and Liza Javier contributed to this report.
 

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