A good thing to do if you ever happen to find a grenade is to immediately call the authorities, as one man has evidently just learned.
A Taco Bell in Ocala, Florida was evacuated on Saturday after a man reportedly stumbled upon a hand grenade while magnet fishing and then drove it to a local Taco Bell, the Ocala Police Department said Saturday. The man was not identified by police on social media, but he had reportedly been magnet fishing in neighboring Ocklawaha when he discovered the grenade. Police said that after having arrived at the fast food restaurant, he dialed 911.
It’s not clear why he chose to transport it to the Taco Bell before alerting the authorities, but no one was hurt in the incident. The department said that a bomb squad with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office was present “to ensure everyone’s safety.”
“The bomb squad removed the grenade without incident and advised it would be disposed of properly,” the Ocala Police Department said in a statement.
The man reportedly alerted the authorities at around 5 p.m. local time, according to police, at which time the Taco Bell was evacuated. The Ocala Police Department tweeted around 6:45 p.m. that the restaurant had reopened for service.
Interestingly, the cops identified the grenade as “an authentic WWII hand grenade,” though it’s not clear what kind. An image appears to show it could be a U.S. Mk 2 grenade. We reached out to the department for more information and will update this post if we hear back.
Magnet fishing turning up relic weaponry is actually not as uncommon as you might think. The BBC reported last year that bomb squads in the U.K. are “regularly” called to magnet fishing sites where people have turned up even live ammunition. One teen who spoke with the BBC about the hobby told the outlet he’d hauled in guns and even a live grenade while magnet fishing. As the BBC noted and as you have probably surmised, it is for this exact reason that the hobby can be dangerous.
Anyway, if you happen to pull a potentially explosive weapon on your next magnet fishing excursion, definitely just call the police.
Update 1/28/19 12:30 p.m. ET: According to an Ocala Police Department report on the incident provided to Gizmodo, two individuals, a man and a woman, found the grenade while metal fishing for “precious metals.” The report states that the man then “put the grenade into a plastic 5-gallon bucket with other assorted scrap metal he had salvaged, and later placed the bucket inside the trunk of his girlfriend’s vehicle.”
The report continues: “Both individuals later drove into the Ocala city limits, parked at the Taco Bell on East Silver Springs Boulevard, and notified law enforcement of their discovery so it could be recovered.” While the Ocala Police Department said on social media that a man contacted police, the report states that it was the woman who made the call.
The report stated that a responding officer determined the grenade’s firing pin mechanism “did not appear to be functional,” but a bomb squad responded as a precautionary measure and in order to obtain the grenade to destroy it.
The Ocala Police Department said its officers on the scene were informed that the grenade was from WWII by the responding bomb squad.
Clarification: A previous version of this article’s headline identified the man as being from Florida. As he has not been identified, we have updated the headline.