North Port man tries pawning WWI explosive, gets traffic rerouted

Reporter: Justin Kase Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:

Traffic in North Port had to be temporarily rerouted Tuesday afternoon after a man tried to pawn a World War I-era explosive.

According to the North Port Police Department, the man entered a pawn shop in the US-41 and Eager Avenue area and attempted to sell what turned out to be a never-fired anti-ship personnel round from WWI. When the store owner told him it could be dangerous, he called NPPD.

“This individual, it appears, came across this item, he says after helping a friend clean out their house. Friend said they didn’t want it. So, he’s like, ‘what am I going to do with it?’ so, he thought maybe it’s worth something,” said Josh Taylor, with the North Port Police Department.

Taylor says the owner of the pawn shop recognized that the round did not have holes drilled in it to show it had been deactivated. “The pawn shop owners said, you know, ‘you got to get out of here with that thing. Take it down the street and call authorities.’ that’s literally what the gentleman did.”

Explosives experts were called in, including from MacDill Airforce Base, to see if it was still a live round.

“As it turned out, that device was still active. We could have had, you know, some drastic outcomes there,” said Taylor.

The executive director of the military heritage museum in Punta Gorda, Gary Butler, says this kind of round was used over 100 years ago to sink ships.

“Would have been used mostly on ships. Fired by long guns on the ship. Possibly these could have also been used on land by artillery, used by tanks on land,” said Butler.

Butler says these were somewhat common, especially early on in the war, and he says in some instances, items like this were brought back by people who served. “It could have been brought back by veterans of WWI and passed on for generations. Or these could be, you know, found and tucked away somewhere.

North Port police say the man who brought the round to the pawn shop won’t face any charges.

As for the anti-ship round, it has been brought back to MacDill Airforce Base in Tampa, where it is expected to be destroyed.

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