DENVER, N.C. -- A Lincoln County man has been arrested after authorities say he shot and killed a pet snake.
Sheriff's deputies reported responding to a call about shooting in a home around 9:30 p.m. Sunday.
Deputies said Gary Wayne Ericcson was sitting on his front porch when they arrived. Reports indicated they found a 20-gauge shotgun and a pistol on a nightstand in the home.
There were also several holes in the walls from shotgun blasts and a 5-foot long dead ball python behind the house.
He faces several charges including felony cruelty to animals and was jailed on a $20,000 bond.
Ericcson spoke exclusively with NBC Charlotte Wednesday about the charges. He said his pet python, called 'Anonymous,' was already dead when he shot it.
"I couldn't bury him or the other animals would get him. I didn't kill him. My snake was already dead. I had to shoot it to get the gas out of him, then I was going to burn him," explained Ericcson. "I've had that snake since he was so small he could just wrap around your wrist -- 17 years -- me and my wife can't have kids, so the animals are our kids."
Ericcson did not deny shooting inside his home. He claimed he was so distraught over the snake's death, he shot up the large cabinet that contained his Dale Earnhardt collection.
The 46-year-old Denver man said he planned to bring witnesses to court to help him prove the snake was already dead when he shot it. Ericcson said he is afraid the county will take his two cats and dog away from him if the animal cruelty charges are not dropped.