May 23, 2009

Live rattlesnake left outside courthouse

A sheriff's deputy examining a suspicious package outside a California courthouse found two toy guns and a live rattlesnake in a trash bag.

Merced County Sheriff's Deputy Tom MacKenzie said the venomous snake was an adult 3 to 4 feet in length, The Modesto Bee reported. It was turned over to Merced Animal Control after the discovery Friday morning.

Rick Jarratt, who works as a court bailiff, unknotted the bag to find the pit viper.

MacKenzie said investigators examined surveillance video and found images of a man dropping off the package. They believe he is a transient and have decided not to pursue charges because no crime appears to have been committed.

The guns were a replica .45-caliber handgun and a toy flintlock pistol, the kind of weapon used by movie pirates.

The sheriff's department was unsure what message, if any, the package was supposed to convey.