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Cobra allegedly kills Texas man; police searching for snake

The pet shop employee was found unresponsive and in his car with puncture wounds on his wrist; another snake and tarantulas found in his car

By Samantha Matsumoto
Austin American-Statesman

AUSTIN, Texas — A cobra snake is missing from the Temple home of a teenage pet shop employee who died in North Austin Tuesday night after possibly being bitten by a snake.

At 9:37 p.m., Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services and Austin police found 18-year-old Grant Thompson in a Lowe’s parking lot on 13000 North Interstate 35 with puncture wounds on his wrist. Thompson was in cardiac arrest and was unresponsive, according to police.

Thompson was transported to St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center but was pronounced dead on arrival, officials said. It is possible that a snake bit him, but the cause of death will remain unknown until an autopsy is completed, EMS said.

According to a Temple Daily Telegram article from March, Thompson was a senior staff member at Fish Bowl Pet Express in Temple and would show exotic animals to children as part of his job.

According to social media posts, Thompson was passionate about animals. His mother had taken him to Fish Bowl Pet Express since he was a baby and, after she bought the business a few years ago, Thompson volunteered to work there before becoming a staff member, posts on Facebook said.

Medics found several containers in Thompson’s car, one of which was holding a live snake. Six tarantulas and a bullfrog were also found. The animals in the car were not venomous and were transported to Austin Reptile Rescue, officials said.

However, when police searched Thompson’s home in Temple, they could not find a cobra that was missing from its cage.

An Austin police spokeswoman did not confirm Wednesday afternoon whether there is an immediate danger to the public.

EMS officials said that snakebite cases are extremely uncommon in the area. EMS Capt. Darren Noak said that in his 20 years working with EMS, he has only seen one or two.

“Does it happen? Absolutely,” Noak said. “But it’s pretty rare.”

Police are investigating Thompson’s death, which is not considered suspicious, officials said.


©2015 Austin American-Statesman, Texas