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Snakes rattle Massena neighborhood

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MASSENA - Todd P. Goolden never once saw a snake in his 18 years of living in the same Massena neighborhood.

That all changed Thursday evening, when village police descended on Marie Street three times to respond to reports of multiple slithering reptiles.

“That is no grass snake,” Mr. Goolden said as he recalled the night’s events. “It looked just like a boa. I’ve seen enough TV programs.”

The snakes were still at large late Friday afternoon, and police were urging anyone who saw the creatures to immediately call them at 769-3577. Chief Timmy J. Currier urged the public to exercise caution.

“Anyone that comes into contact with an aggressive snake should avoid it and contact the police department immediately,” Mr. Currier said.

Also, if there is anyone that is missing a pet snake, please contact us with information on it, so we can take the appropriate action of notification to the public,” he added.

Mr. Goolden had just finished walking around the neighborhood with his six-year-old twins at approximately 9 p.m. Thursday when he noticed a group of children gathered around the intersection of Northview Drive and Marie Street.

He wasn’t sure what they were looking at, then saw a five-foot-long snake emerge and slither into a neighbor’s front bushes. One of the girls in the group, which was heading to a nearby Stewart’s store for an ice cream cone, chased the snake into a neighbor’s front yard, he said. It was a gray-red color with spots on it.

“I grabbed my twins and put them behind me,” he said.

Another neighbor, Mark Mittiga, was walking his dog at the time, saw the commotion and called police for the first time.

“I think it’s somebody’s pet, to be honest with you,” Mr. Mittiga said.

Police said that snake was reported as being five-feet long with a four-inch diameter.

The police arrived for a first time, but found nothing. Mr. Goolden’s wife and daughter, Maddison, were walking back up the driveway when Maddison warned her mother to watch out for a stick in the driveway.

A smaller snake, approximately two and a half feet long, had slithered over his daughter’s feet; she was wearing flip-flops at the time. She and her mother began screaming, and Mr. Goolden called the police again.

“I had my son’s scooter in my hand. I hit it a couple of times with my scooter,” he said.

That snake then slithered into the same neighbor’s bushes, where the five-foot-long creature also ended up.

“I’m wondering if there’s a ... family living around there,” he said.

At the second visit, police again found nothing.

“Now these guys are thinking I’m calling wolf for sure,” he said.

The police left, and Mr. Goolden’s family was inside by that point. He then turned to head inside when what he described was a third snake in his driveway, of a similar length to the second one, reared its head and stared at him.

Mr. Goolden confronted the snake. He grabbed it but it crept out and went under a brick near his driveway.

Police, arriving a third time, found that snake under a brick and attempted to catch it, but that one escaped too, he said. He had no photos of the creatures.

Mr. Goolden said he was not scared by the creatures because the adrenaline was running through him and he wanted to protect his children. He stayed outside until 1 a.m. Friday with an iPad, researching information on snakes and watching the movie “Anaconda.”

Mr. Goolden was convinced the snakes he saw were boa constrictors. Boas hunt by wrapping themselves around their prey, killing them, but are not venomous like a cobra or rattlesnake, according to the San Diego Zoo website.

Friday night, Mr. Goolden planned to gather his friends, crack open a few beers and find the snakes. He doesn’t want to kill the creatures, but would rather capture them and set them free in the wild or return them to their owner.

“Tonight’s the night,” he said Friday afternoon. “Tonight’s the big snake hunt.”

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