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Last updated on Wednesday, May 23, 2012
(INDIANAPOLIS) - A frightening discovery has one Indianapolis man thinking twice about what he buys at yard sales.
Daniel Miller of WISH TV reports that over the weekend David Smith had misgivings after bringing home a $1 find from a sale.
Smith is a bargain hunter and said he can't pass up a good deal on anything at a yard sale.
"I've had some good luck finding things at yard sales for inexpensive prices," he said.
His intention was to give his latest find to his nephew, but once he got home with it, he thought about his nephew taking it apart.
That find turned out to be a live and potentially dangerous military mortar.
"It was laying on the ground," Smith said, "and I picked it up, and it was rather heavy. And I said, 'What is this?' And the owner said, 'It was a mortar - we think,'" Smith said.
Gavin Merriman said he had the mortar round for more than 15 years before deciding to sell it.
"My mom had moved to her house in Indianapolis; we found it in the yard. Long story short, it ends up being a decoration in my yard for several years," Merriman said.
Smith was thinking it would make a great gift.
"My nephew likes military items, and I thought it would be a cool display piece to sit on his shelf," he said.
But then, Smith realized something wasn't right about the mortar round.
"I got to looking at it, and I was worried, and I was like, 'I don't know if I want to take this in the house or not.' So I left it out back," Smith said.
He took pictures of the mortar and called around to find out if the it could still be live ammunition.
"I took it to the Fire Department over here on 56th Street, and the fire captain said, 'We don't think it's live because it's got a hole in the top,'" Smith said.
Then he drove to Don's Guns.
"They looked at it, and the guy there goes, 'I'm not sure, but I think it's live," Smith said.
They told Smith to drive to Camp Atterbury.
"There's no way I'm leaving this in my trunk to drive 40 miles down to Camp Atterbury if this things a live mortar and see me blowing up on the highway if someone read ends me. No," Smith said.
So he called Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, who sent out its bomb squad. They showed up to his house and determined the mortar was indeed live. Investigators found the firing pin still intact.
"I am curious about where it came from because I think on the serial number on the side it said something like 1971, so how did a Vietnam-era mortar get to somebody's back yard?" Smith said.
IMPD's bomb squad took the mortar round to their headquarters to be tested. Diagnostics on the mortar round found it was still live. We've learned it was destroyed at the squad's bunker.
By the way, the homeowner who sold Smith the mortar round gave him his dollar back.
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