The magnet fishermen hauled the day’s catch — a few metal scraps mixed in with a hand grenade from the Second World War — and secured it in a car’s trunk. At this point, many 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 in Florida had ended with a decades-old relic instead of the precious metals they were looking for, pointed their car west to a popular fast-food destination: Taco Bell.
The couple arrived at the restaurant and reported the find, prompting them to send a bomb squad to carry the grenade off. According to an incident report from the Ocala Police Department, it will be “destroyed off site at a later time.”
The grenade was corroded and did not seem to be functional, said Lt. Angy Scroble, but from an abundance of caution it was taken away. The department described the scene on Twitter as an “evacuation,” but Scroble said officers only secured the parking lot in order to keep patrons away. She said some employees stayed inside.
The grenade was identified by Bomb squad officers as being produced in the Second World War era, although it was unclear where, Scroble said. In the past, she said, the nearby Ocala National Forest was used for military training, adding that if that included any time during the 1940s, it was uncertain.
A request for comment was not returned by the couple involved. No crimes were charged against them, Scroble said.
A photograph from the department showed the rusted husk of a Mk 2 grenade, popularly referred to as a “pineapple grenade” due to the rectangular ridges on its body. The weapons were carried through the Vietnam War by troops from the tail end of World War I.
The unexploded war detritus, such as land mines, unexploded bombs and other ammunition, is likely to vex authorities and civilians as long as there is conflict — and the arms that come with it.
World War II training bombs dropped by Atlantic aircraft were washed ashore in North Carolina, and U.S. coastal areas are littered with torpedoes and loads of depth left after German submarine attacks.
The dangers go further back. In 2008, a collector of American artifacts was killed to restore a Civil War cannonball, one of the estimated 1.5 million rounds of artillery and fired cannonballs in the conflict. Estimates say there were duds as many as 1 in 5, and some are now buried on the ground and could threaten construction projects in Virginia, Pennsylvania and elsewhere.
European developers and construction workers are routinely faced with unexploded World War II ordnance, and since the war, in Vietnam and Laos, U.S .- supplied munitions have killed or wounded thousands.
But a quieter conclusion was seen in central Florida on Saturday.
“Taco Bell has reopened,” said the Ocala police on Twitter.