An Indiana father was killed and his two sons were injured after he went through a grandfather’s belongings and found a hand grenade that exploded when someone pulled the pin, authorities said.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Department did not say who had unbolted the family home in Lakes of the Four Seasons, a gated community of about 7,300 residents and about 140 miles northwest of Indianapolis.
The blast, which occurred before 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, unleashed shrapnel that injured the father’s 14-year-old son and 18-year-old daughter, who were taken to the hospital, the sheriff’s department said in a statement. Their conditions were not immediately known on Sunday night and authorities did not identify family members.
The father was found dead at the scene, the sheriff’s department said.
A bomb squad was called to the home « to secure the area and determine if there might be any other explosive devices, » authorities said.
The sheriff’s department did not immediately respond to emailed questions Sunday evening. His homicide detectives were investigating the explosion.
Such grenade detonations are extremely rare, he said Lieutenant Colonel Robert Leindeckeran explosive ordnance disposal expert and former commander of the 67th Ordnance Detachment stationed at Fort McNair.
« There are a lot of hand grenades out there in private homes, parts of collections or war souvenirs that the family has kept, » Colonel Leindecker said. But « a very, very high percentage, » he added, « are totally inert and safe to handle. »
About 15 years ago, the Colonel said, it was more common to see families come across war souvenirs like a grenade or a few rounds of ammunition while cleaning out the attics or closets of World War II veterans. In the vast majority of those cases, Colonel Leindecker said, the grenades were inert and legal to have.
« The last thing you want to do with a grenade is pull the pin until you know 1.010 percent that it’s totally inert, » he said.
It is likely that when the firing pin was pulled in Indiana Saturday, there was a loud crack coming from the grenade as the firing pin struck the primer, Colonel Leindecker said. That moment was probably followed by a three to five second delay. During the delay, a column of black powder would burn to the detonator before the grenade detonated.
« Don’t do it, » the Colonel said. « If you have an explosive item and you don’t know exactly what it is, call the local police and have them brought out to examine it. »
John Ismai contributed report.