Boys discover grenade in Big Ditch
By Christine Steele [email protected]
Posted: 10/09/2010 11:39:48 PM MDT
SILVER CITY - It wasn't a parade or even a dead body, but crime scene tape and a trio of police cars blocking the College Street bridge had area business owners speculating on what might be going on in the Big Ditch.
Turns out, it was what appeared to be a hand grenade, and officers were treating it as a live one by cordoning off the Big Ditch from just behind the Silver City Fire Department on Hudson Street all the way to the College Street Bridge.
Two boys, ages 10 and 13, discovered the grenade early Saturday morning while walking in the Big Ditch, said Officer Marty Serna of the New Mexico State Police. The boys didn't touch the grenade or move it, Serna said, but called their find in to Central Dispatch.
By 9:30 a.m., police had arrived and began stringing crime scene tape across businesses along Hudson Street from the Silver City Fire Department up to Don Fidencio's, which did not have crime scene tape across it, and on the other side of the College Street Bridge just after the Curl Up and Dye hair salon.
Most of the business owners in the area had no clue what was going on until later in the day.
Kelly Trinkle-Thai, owner of the Curl Up and Dye Salon, which is on the bridge, said she first heard was going on from a reporter about 3 p.m. Saturday.
"The police were out there this morning and we asked what was going on and they said that there was just some evidence that needed to not be disturbed," she said.
"We're all kind of upset here. We're right on top of it. I think we should have been notified and informed so that if we decided we wanted to close we could have. Nobody came to tell us anything. They closed off all the streets around us. People coming in were like, 'Oh my gosh, what's going on?' "
"I thought it was a parade I hadn't heard about," said Rob Connoly, chef and owner of the Curious Kumquat, next to Curl Up and Dye.
"I'd like to have known," he said. "We had no reason to suspect anything was going on. It's such a busy weekend with Weekend at the Galleries. We had a lot of traffic at this end of Bullard. Customers have asked, and our response was, 'We don't know, but we think there is a parade.' "
Meanwhile, a cluster of police officers - both Silver City and state police - stood on the bridge Saturday afternoon, keeping people and traffic off and clearing people out of the ditch.
"It appears to be intact," Serna said of the device, which police had positively identified as a grenade. "We couldn't distinguish if there were any numbers or letters on it."
A bomb squad was dispatched at noon and arrived just after 5 p.m.
Sgt. Lance Batemen, with the state police bomb squad in Roswell, and Leonard Orneles, with the state police bomb squad in Santa Fe, both arrived on the scene and had removed the grenade by 6 p.m. The street was then reopened.
The bomb squad took the grenade off-site to detonate it.
Bateman said the grenade could have been down in the Big Ditch for 10 to 20 years. It was found under some leaves on a bank, and had a little bit of rust on it, he said.
"It was intact," he said. "It's probably a live grenade."
Bateman said the bomb squad gets calls about possible live grenades a couple times a year. The last one was up in northern New Mexico a few months ago, he said.
Meanwhile, most people downtown remained unaware of just what was happening in the Big Ditch.
"It's understandable that they don't want to tell you everything," Trinkle-Thai said, "but at least notify me, 'You aren't in any potential danger but we are going to put up caution tape.'"