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Rattlesnake Coiled to Strike Tot Shot and Killed by Off-Duty Policeman

August 27, 1991

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A rattlesnake coiled and ready to strike a 2-year-old child was shot to death by an off-duty police officer.

Officer Mike Grasso drew his 9mm service weapon and fired a single round after the girl spotted the 52-inch-long snake on the front porch of his fiancee’s Woodland Hills home Saturday afternoon, said Lt. Fred Tuller.

″It was coiled, ready to strike. He grabbed the child with one arm to put her out of the way and then he drew his weapon and fired,″ Tuller said.

Grasso, 33, of Chatsworth, first saw the snake while arriving at the house.

″We got out of the car, the baby walked up to the snake - it was within 3 feet of the baby - and she said, ’Snake, Mommy 3/8‴ Grasso said. ″I looked over and there was a full-sized California diamondback 2 feet from the baby’s bare legs.

″I pulled her off the ground, just as it was ready to strike. It was the kind of thing where maybe a half-second later, the child would have been bit. For a 25-pound child, a snakebite is pretty disastrous.″

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