Man squatting in vacant house with python charged with shooting into home next door

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A Fairfax county couple got a rude awakening early Monday morning as bullets came flying through their walls with one almost hitting them.

Police said the gunfire came from 35-year-old Michael Stride who was believed to be squatting in a vacant home next door along with a 6-foot python.

"I noticed two bullet holes under the clock," said Ralph Phipps.

He woke up Monday morning to the sound of something hitting their home on Cherri Drive.

"I thought maybe a branch had fallen off a tree," Phipps said. "I got up with a flashlight to look around to see if something had penetrated the ceiling. I didn't see anything, so I went into the bathroom, heard another loud noise and the bullet came through the door and just dropped to the floor right next to me."

When Phipps came into the living room, he discovered the bullet holes in the wall.

"So I called 911," he said. "I knew somebody was shooting at the house. While I was on with the 911 operator, two more shots were fired."

When officers arrived, they found and arrested Stride inside the home right next door. They found bullet holes in a small window facing the Phipps house and several handguns.

The Phipps said Stride had been staying in the home for about five months. They say the home is scheduled for demolition and was supposed to be vacant.

Once in a while, they would see candlelight coming from inside. They didn't interact with Stride or notice anything unusual except for one thing.

"We had seen the snake two or three times crawling up the window in one of the bedrooms," said Phipps. "But that's the way some people are. Some people like snakes."

Animal control has picked up the snake.

Stride is charged with shooting into an occupied dwelling.

It is unclear why the shots were fired in the first place. Police are still investigating.