A snake in the courthouse? Believe it

Deputy Gregory Wood was looking forward to a mundane Monday morning manning the metal detector at the Haywood County courthouse when a woman came in with some strange news: a snake had taken up residence in the elevator of the parking deck.

Needless to say, when the woman saw the big, black snake curled up in the corner, she opted to take the stairs. Wood said he didn’t doubt her tale for a second.

“We get strange things around here all the time,” he said.

So Wood, along with fellow Deputy Russell Bryson, headed out to see for themselves. They hit the call button for the elevator, and when the doors opened, there it was — a big, black snake nearly four feet long.

They realized right away the snake didn’t get in there on its own.

“It couldn’t have crawled in there before the doors closed shut on it,” Bryson said.

But first things first.

“I knew I needed to get it off the elevator,” Wood said. He pulled his expandable baton from his holster and quickly pinned down the snake’s head to immobilize it. With his other hand, Wood grabbed the snake by the neck so it couldn’t turn around and bite him.

Wood paused briefly to pose while Bryson took a picture on his cell phone, and then the two released the poor critter into the grass.

Once back inside, they began reviewing surveillance footage of the parking deck. At 10:20 a.m. — about 10 minutes before the woman reported it — a man is seen walking up to the elevator and putting the snake inside. It’s possible someone rode on the elevator with the snake if they were talking on their phone or otherwise distracted, Wood said.

“We are trying to figure out if there is anything we can charge him with,” Wood said of the man. They consulted with a District Court judge to figure out what charge might be applicable. The next step would be identifying him.

Before putting the snake on the elevator, the man was walking around with it on the grounds outside the historic courthouse. Tax Collector David Francis, who works in the building, confronted the man and asked him to get rid of the snake.

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