Grenade in storage draws bomb squad
A hand grenade discovered in the contents of a storage unit at Sun Island Storage on State Road in Vineyard Haven prompted a visit from two members of the Massachusetts State Police Hazardous Devices (bomb squad) Section on Feb. 5, the day of the state presidential primary election.
After x-raying the grenade, the hazardous devices team determined it was hollow inside and posed no threat, according to Tisbury police chief John Cashin.
The incident unfolded over several hours, starting around 9 am when Sun Island Storage manager Sally Sylvia called the Tisbury police department to report that employee Reinaldo Neto found the grenade while cleaning out a storage unit. The unit's contents were being readied for auction, which is Sun Island Storage's policy after a customer's account has been in arrears for more than three months, Ms. Sylvia said.
After calling the police, Ms. Sylvia instructed Mr. Neto to remove the grenade from the office, and he placed it under a semi-trailer unit in the parking lot. Tisbury police officers, the Tisbury fire department, and State Police Sgt. Neal Maciel responded to the Ms. Sylvia's call.
Tisbury police officers Scott Ogden and Joe Ballotte and Sergeant Maciel cordoned off the area around the grenade and stood guard while Tisbury detective Mark Santon tracked down its owner.
Detective Santon wrote in the report he filed that unlike other inert novelty grenades he has seen, the grenade in question still had a spoon and pin present, and the bottom was not hollowed out.
Chief Cashin said that after a few phone calls, "We talked to some family members of the person who was using the storage facility and were told the grenade was fake, which did allay some fears, but with something like that, you go the extra mile to be extraordinarily careful."
In order to rule out all doubt about the grenade, Sergeant Maciel initiated a call to the State Police's Fire and Explosion Investigation Section (F&EIS). "We're still never 100 percent sure until the experts take a look and the device is made safe," he said.
Poor weather prevented the State Police from flying Sgt. Gerry Galizzio and Trooper Scott Fahey to the Island from Stow, where they work as members of the State Police Hazardous Devices Section, attached to the State Fire Marshall's office. Instead, Sergeant Maciel said, they drove to Woods Hole in a State Police vehicle equipped for detecting and removing explosive devices and sailed to the Island on the 2:30 pm ferry.
After Sergeant Galizzio and Trooper Fahey x-rayed the grenade and determined it was harmless, they left on the next ferry. When told that various stories about the incident were circulating via the Island rumor mill, Sergeant Maciel assured, tongue-in-cheek, "There were no weapons of mass destruction found."
Ms. Sylvia said when Mr. Neto showed up in her office with the grenade, her first thought was, "Oh my gosh, not again." She recalled another experience in which she auctioned off the contents of a storage unit and the buyer later called to tell her she found a hand grenade rolled up in clothing in one of the boxes. The woman took it to the State Police, who determined it was live and detonated it, Ms. Sylvia said.
Although Sun Island Storage's rental contract specifically prohibits the storage of anything explosive or flammable, Ms. Sylvia said she makes it a point to call that clause to customers' attention when they sign.