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D.I. employee finds military mortar among donations

The bomb squad responded Friday after an authentic military mortar was donated to Deseret Industries.
The bomb squad responded Friday after an authentic military mortar was donated to Deseret Industries.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The bomb squad responded Friday after an authentic military mortar was donated to Deseret Industries.

An employee at the Welfare Square Deseret Industries, 743 W. 700 South, found the round among items that had been tossed into the trash Friday afternoon, Salt Lake police detective Greg Wilking said.

"It looks like the item was donated to Deseret Industries there, and while things were being processed, it was tossed into a Dumpster," Wilking said. "This employee saw it, picked it up and inspected it, and went, 'Wow, this doesn't look right.'"

The employee called police about 1:15 p.m. The Salt Lake City Police Bomb Squad and Hill Air Force Bomb Squad responded to the D.I., and military personnel transported the mortar from the site and disposed of it.

"We don't really know much about the round itself, how it got to be there or anything like that. We just recognized it as being an explosive device that really shouldn't be at the Deseret Industries," Wilking said.

Though police initially reported that the mortar was live, it was later confirmed that the ordnance did not include the blasting apparatus that would have been needed to detonate it, Wilking said.

"I'm sure that (D.I. employees) are pleased it turned out as well as it did," Wilking said.

Police don't know where the mortar came from and don't intend to investigate it, Wilking said.

"With the circumstances and how it came into the D.I., it would be a really hard thing to try and track back," he said. "We just want people to be aware when they're donating stuff, know what they're donating. If they find something in a house that they don't know what it is, before they donate it, please give us a call and we'll come out and take a look at it. We'd rather everybody be safe than have an unfortunate accident handling a device like that."

A spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said Monday that donations of dangerous items to the church-owned thrift stores are "extremely rare."

Email: mromero@deseretnews.com, Twitter: McKenzieRomero