Vincent D. Fong awoke at 3:30 yesterday morning to find an unannounced visitor in his bed: a three-foot-long black snake.
Fong bolted from the room.
When he returned -- gingerly -- the snake had taken refuge in the closet. Fong said he stuffed a towel under the closet door, breathed a sigh of relief, and sank back onto the bed.
Which is when he saw the second snake.
Fong, 32, a police officer at Howard University, said he shoved the foot-long reptile into a coffee can with a broomstick, and covered it with a thick book. A snake expert who came to the ground-level apartment later in the day identified it as a copperhead, he said.
The double encounter was the latest of a half-dozen reported snake sightings this month at 3130 Brinkley Rd. in Oxon Hill, one of a dozen midrise brick buildings that make up the Hunt Crest condominium. Residents say the problem has existed for at least two years at the development, which backs onto a wooded area.
Betty J. Borden, 32, told a reporter she had abandoned the apartment she shares with Fong after noticing a reptilian intruder Sept. 6.
"I'm from the backwoods of North Carolina," Borden said, "and they taught me to run."
Around the time Borden spotted the snake, another tenant found a green snake in her closet. On Wednesday, Fong, said he turned on the air conditioner and decapitated a copperhead. Chunks of it remain on the lawn. On Thursday, tenant Robert Haft said, a copperhead was captured on the walkway outside the building.
And there have been other encounters, according to residents.
Borden said she found a snake on the patio in May, and several snakeskins in the bathroom in July. Sandy Haft said a snake crawled up her bathtub drain last year. David F. Pound, a member of the condominium's board, said he bashed one to death in the laundry room two years ago. Nancy Pound said she will not go into the laundry room unless someone first reconnoiters for her.
An employe who answered the telephone yesterday at CMI Management, which provides maintenance for the building, said there would be no comment until tomorrow.
"Everyone tells me nothing can be done," Fong said. He added that he planned to pay a buddy from Vietnam to remove the snakes in his unit.
Meanwhile, Pound said he had not realized there had been other snake sightings since his own two years ago, and said he was trying to organize an emergency meeting of the condominium board.