Local News

Gardener finds mortar shell outside Durham home

Posted July 6, 2010

— Durham police closed some streets and evacuated houses Tuesday morning after a World War II mortar shell was found outside a home.

A man doing yard work at 3529 Mossdale Ave. found the shell under some pine needles at about 7 a.m., police said.

Homeowner Albert Woodin said his landscaper picked the object up and shouted, "Look what I found." Woodin said he immediately recognized it as unexploded ordnance.

"My heart went in my mouth. I took it from him. I said, 'You should not have lifted this thing up at all,' and I gently put it down," Woodin said.

Police blocked off Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway at Old Chapel Hill and Dixon roads, and area residents who were ordered out of their homes had to wait nearby for the Durham County Sheriff's Office bomb squad.

The bomb squad went to Woodin's home only after checking on a suspicious package that was found on the sidewalk outside a state Department of Revenue office in southwest Durham.

"This is the most excitement our street has ever had since I came here in '64," said Woodin's neighbor, Kenneth Bills. "As long as nobody gets hurt, that's fine."

Capt. John Flamion Jr., commander of the bomb squad, said the fuse and powder had been removed from the mortar shell, rendering it inert.

Flamion said it's unclear where the mortar came from, but he noted it appears to have been in Woodin's yard for some time. Investigators said it's unlikely it was from Camp Butner, which was used as an Army training facility during World War II, because it's too far away.

Bomb squads across the region have responded to two other cases of unexploded ordnance in recent weeks.

A contractor was cited for trying to carry three World War II-era mortars onto Fort Bragg last month. A Halifax County teen found a live grenade in the grass on Friday while mowing the lawn.


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  • Never regret Jul 6, 2010

    up 4 degrees fire for effect

  • Opinionated1 Jul 6, 2010

    Why are they are always duds? Once in a while, can we get a live round please?? The drama needs to match the situation!

  • Remy Jul 6, 2010

    "Durham, leading the way in terrorism eradication technology and hoaxes! And wasting their citizen's time!"

    If you don't live in Durham, why you so worried about what they do? You've been complaining about their involvement with Wake County issues. Sounds a bit 2 sided don't ya think?

  • katiebridgette Jul 6, 2010

    It would be awesome to find a mortar while digging around in the yard. It would make a great lawn ornament.

    Now, a mortar round is a different matter. The 'mortar round' goes inside the 'mortar' - one explodes, the other is used to aim to projectile and initiate the explosion. The two terms are not interchangable.

    People who write for a living should be more careful with the tools of their trade. Misused words can explode in your face, too.

  • scarletindurham Jul 6, 2010

    "It's lucky the gardener knew what a WWII mortar round looks like."

    SERIOUSLY! Had that been me, I would have picked it up and examined it like, "What the heck is this?!" Now I'm going to be afraid to do yardwork. I'm sure the hubby will love my excuse!

  • dixieboy Jul 6, 2010

    most likely came from topsoil trucked in from rougemont. remember camp butner?

  • NoFreakinWay Jul 6, 2010

    Durham, leading the way in terrorism eradication technology and hoaxes!
    And wasting their citizen's time!

  • NoFreakinWay Jul 6, 2010

    Durham is the pinnacle of weirdness I am quite sure of! Next you'll be telling us their "clergy" are joining in the fight to resegregate schools!

  • Con Amor luvs u regardless Jul 6, 2010

    ""I wonder if the mortar was wrapped in pool noodles"".......... Excuse me TeresaHomeStagingExpert, um, but.... What the heck is a pool noodle???? LMBO!!!!!

  • whatusay Jul 6, 2010

    And just how many decades has this mortar been in this yard? And now we have a crisis. Is Obama involved in this evacuation? How about the Corps of Engineers? These people might never be able to return to their home.