OCALA — The magnet fishermen hauled up the catch of the day — a few metal scraps mixed in with a World War II-era hand grenade — and secured it in the trunk of a car.
At this point, many people would call the police to report a potentially dangerous explosive weapon.
But the man and woman, perhaps disappointed that their trawling of the Ocklawaha River had ended with a decades-old relic instead of the precious metals they were seeking, pointed their car west, toward a popular fast-food destination: Taco Bell.
The couple arrived at the restaurant Saturday and reported the find, prompting a bomb squad to be sent to carry off the grenade. It will be “destroyed off site at a later time,” according to an incident report from the Ocala Police Department.
The grenade was corroded and did not appear to be functional, Lt. Angy Scroble said, but it was taken away out of an abundance of caution. The department described the scene as an “evacuation” on Twitter, but Scroble said officers merely secured the parking lot to keep patrons away. Some employees remained inside, she said.
Bomb squad officers identified the grenade as being produced in the World War II era, although it was unclear where, Scroble said. The nearby Ocala National Forest had been used for military training in the past, she said, adding that it was uncertain whether that included any time during the 1940s.
The couple involved did not return a request for comment. They were not charged with any crimes, Scroble said.
A photo from the police department appeared to show the rusted husk of a Mk 2 grenade, popularly known as a “pineapple grenade” because of the rectangular ridges on its body. The weapons were carried by troops from the tail end of World War I through the Vietnam War.
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World War II-era training bombs dropped by airplanes in the Atlantic have washed ashore in North Carolina, and U.S. coastal areas are littered with torpedoes and depth charges left after German U-boat attacks.
The dangers go back further. In 2008, an American artifact collector was killed while restoring a cannonball from the Civil War, one of the estimated 1.5 million artillery rounds and cannonballs fired in the conflict. Estimates say as many as 1 in 5 were duds, and some are now buried in the ground and could threaten construction projects in Virginia, Pennsylvania and elsewhere.
European developers and construction workers routinely encounter unexploded ordnance from World War II. And in Vietnam and Laos, U.S.-supplied munitions have killed or wounded thousands since the war.