Scott Lake man who kept alligators to guard marijuana grow pleads guilty to shooting

Staff writerMay 9, 2014 

Darren Shore

A Scott Lake man who kept a stripper pole in his living room and two 5-foot alligators to guard his marijuana grow pleaded guilty Friday to shooting another man twice in his driveway in 2012.

Court papers allege that Darren Shore was angry with shooting victim Ryan Lemcke over Lemcke's request that Shore pay him with Vicodin after he helped move a hot tub at Shore's former residence in the 12000 block of Champion Lane SW.

Moments before the Nov. 26, 2012 shooting, Shore left Lemcke's stepmother a voice mail warning her that he was going to "fill him full of (expletive) holes."

Shore then exited his residence and fired eight shots from a .380 caliber pistol as Lemcke drove up to the house, according to court documents, and an audiotape of Shore's voice mail that was played for a reporter Friday.

Lemcke was struck twice - one bullet struck his bicep and another grazed his shoulder. Thurston County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Joseph Wheeler said Friday that Lemcke is lucky he wasn't shot dead.

As part of a deal struck Friday, Shore, 43, pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree assault. Wheeler said he will recommend that Shore serve seven years and nine months in prison. Shore's attorney, Brett Purtzer of Tacoma, said he will argue for an exceptional sentence downward to five years in prison.

Prosecutors initially charged Shore with attempted first-degree murder.

Shore's sentencing hearing is set for May 30 in Thurston County Superior Court.

Lemcke's stepmother was in court Friday. She said that Lemcke has recovered from his injuries, but declined further comment.

Shore has been in custody at the Thurston County Jail since the shooting.

The shooting made national headlines after details emerged of the strange items found at the residence - a stripper pole in the living room, 15 marijuana plants, and two live alligators guarding the grow. Thurston County Sheriff's Lt. Greg Elwin also revealed that Shore's girlfriend was an "adult entertainer."

After the shooting, investigating sheriff's deputies fed the alligators chicken "to keep them occupied and distracted as we went about our business," Elwin recalled. One of the alligators was particularly "feisty," Elwin added. The alligators were legally owned, and were not taken into custody by Thurston County Animal Services.

As of Friday, the fate of the two alligators who once feasted on raw chicken was unknown to prosecutors, police and Thurston County Animal Services Director Susanne Beauregard.

Purtzer said outside court Friday that as far as he knows, no one associated with Shore has possession of the alligators.

"He's out of the alligator business," Purtzer said of his client.

Shore had no prior criminal convictions at the time of the shooting. He was unemployed and received $3,000 a month in benefits from the state Department of Labor & Industries.

Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5445; jpawloski@theolympian.com

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