Grenade seized during arrest wasn’t live, police say
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A man carrying an inert hand grenade caused a scare when Winnipeg police found the device hidden in his clothing, along with a knife, during an arrest Monday morning.
Initially thought to be “live” by officers at the scene in Weston, the grenade was later determined to be “non-viable” after being taken away and tested by the bomb unit, police said in a news release.
“At a quick glance, it appeared to be real,” said police spokesman Const. Dani McKinnon. “They are always treated as if they are live and a viable weapon.”
The rare discovery happened when West District officers on patrol stopped a man walking down a back lane at about 1 a.m., McKinnon said.
When he was taken into custody, the grenade and a blade within a sheath were found in his clothing.
Officers stopped the man because he showed characteristics of an armed person, with an object protruding from his waistband, said police.
Officers are trained to recognize the signs a person may be hiding a weapon. Indicators can include a certain style of walking or a person’s hands tracking up and down their clothing to ensure an object is still in place, said McKinnon.
After finding the grenade, officers cordoned off the area as a precaution and called in the bomb unit.
“When you find this kind of device or weapon, it’s all hands on deck to get everybody, including the accused, to safety,” said McKinnon. “The main thing is to keep everybody in the area safe.”
An initial press release, which contained a photo of the grenade, stated the device was determined to be live and was disposed of.
The bomb unit phoned the public information office with an update a short time later after the device was found to be inert during morning tests, McKinnon said.
Police sent out an updated news release — stating the grenade was non-viable — about 40 minutes after the initial statement.
Given her decades of expertise, Jaime Cline, owner of Marway Militaria and Winnipeg Army Surplus at 30-1865 Sargent Ave., could tell the grenade was a dud when she saw the photo tweeted by the police department.
The device wasn’t the traditional colour and didn’t have a base plug, she said.
“I can understand why the police would take that matter seriously because they don’t know upon quick inspection if (the grenade) is explosive or not,” said Cline. “They reacted the right way. They have to err on the side of caution because if it was live, it would be incredibly dangerous.”
Her store sells similar-looking inert grenades, which are popular among collectors of war or military artifacts.
Some classic car owners use dud devices as vehicle gear-shift knobs.
“The only damage they would do is if you dropped (one) on your toes because they’re solid metal,” said Cline. “We sell similar ones to that that are hollow with no explosive components at all.”
Live grenades are a prohibited weapon in Canada, and almost impossible to obtain, she noted.
It would be “very foolish” for an average person to possess one, said Cline.
A 35-year-old man was charged with two counts each of possession of a weapon and carrying a concealed weapon, prohibited device or ammunition after Monday’s discovery.
One of the charges relates to the grenade, despite it being inert.
“It’s no different than a firearms-related charge being laid and later determining it’s an improvised firing device or a pellet gun or an airsoft gun,” said McKinnon.
The man, who was held in custody, was also charged with three counts of failing to comply with a release order.
He had warrants for failing to comply with a probation order and failing to attend court, said police.
The man’s prior criminal record includes multiple convictions for assault, most recently in September 2021, when he was sentenced to 40 days time served.
In 2016, the bomb unit removed an airsoft grenade that was found in a ninth-floor hallway inside an apartment block on Webb Place in downtown Winnipeg.
The discovery resulted in a partial evacuation of the building.
— with files from Dean Pritchard
As a general assignment reporter, Chris covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.
Updated on Tuesday, November 22, 2022 8:36 PM CST: Adds new photos