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Rattlesnake in man’s car isn’t a crime — but the uranium could be, Oklahoma cops say

Oklahoma police say they found a rattlesnake in the backseat of a car during a traffic stop — but it might not be the most dangerous thing they discovered.

What they pulled out of a silver canister was radioactive, police say.

An officer with the Guthrie Police Department pulled over a black Ford with expired tags in late June, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by McClatchy. The driver’s license was suspended, and he also didn’t have insurance on the car, police said.

Then officers learned that the car had been reported stolen in Oklahoma County, where Oklahoma City is located, police said.

So, the officer handcuffed the man, and another cop arrived to arrest a woman in the passenger seat, according to the affidavit.

The man informed officers that he had a gun in the center console of the car, police said. But they found more than just the Smith and Wesson .357 when searching the vehicle.

Besides an open bottle of Kentucky Deluxe whiskey with a few sips missing, the officer found a rattlesnake inside a terrarium on the backseat, according to the affidavit. Then the officer continued searching the car and reported finding a silver canister with a yellow powder inside. It was labeled as “Uranium,” according to the affidavit.

Officers then called an agency to test the yellow powder, which confirmed the substance was in fact radioactive material, police said. The officers took the uranium for “safe keeping,” according to the affidavit.

The unusual traffic stop resulted in charges against Stephen Jennings and Racheal Rivera, who both live in Guthrie, police said.

Jennings was charged with possession of a stolen vehicle, use of a firearm while committing a felony and driving with an open alcohol container, police said. Rivera was charged with felon in possession of a firearm, police said.

However, neither suspect has been charged in connection with the uranium because police are still investigating what Jennings and Rivera planned to do with it, KFOR reported.

“We call in a company that deals with that specifically and it’s taken safely into possession,” Gibbs told the Oklahoma City TV station. “The uranium is the wild card in that situation.”

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Chacour Koop is a Real-Time reporter based in Kansas City. Previously, he reported for the Associated Press, Galveston County Daily News and Daily Herald in Chicago.
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