An Indiana father was killed and his two children were injured after they went through a grandfather’s belongings and found a hand grenade that detonated when someone pulled the pin, the authorities said.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Department did not say who had pulled the pin at the family home in Lakes of the Four Seasons, a gated community of about 7,300 residents and roughly 140 miles northwest of Indianapolis.
The explosion, which occurred Saturday sometime before 6:30 p.m., unleashed shrapnel that injured the father’s 14-year-old son and 18-year-old daughter, who were taken to a hospital, the sheriff’s department said in a statement. Their conditions were not immediately known on Sunday night, and the authorities have not identified members of the family.
The father was found dead at the scene, the sheriff’s department said.
A bomb squad was called to the home “to secure the area and determine whether there may be additional explosive devices,” the authorities said.
The sheriff’s department did not immediately respond to emailed questions on Sunday night. Its homicide detectives were investigating the explosion.
Such grenade detonations are extremely rare, said Lt. Col. Robert Leiendecker, an expert on explosive ordnance disposal and a former commander of the 67th Ordnance Detachment stationed at Fort McNair.
“There are a lot of hand grenades out there in private homes, parts of collections or war souvenirs the family has kept,” Colonel Leiendecker said. But “a very, very high percentage,” he added, “are totally inert and safe to handle.”
About 15 years ago, the colonel said, it was more common to see families stumbling upon war souvenirs like a grenade or some rounds of ammunition while cleaning the attics or closets of World War II veterans. In a vast majority of those instances, Colonel Leiendecker said, the grenades were inert and legal to have.
“The last thing you ever want to do with a grenade is pull the pin until you know 1,010 percent that it’s totally inert,” he said.
It’s likely that when the pin was pulled on Saturday in Indiana, there was a loud pop that came from the grenade as the firing pin hit the primer, Colonel Leiendecker said. That moment was probably followed by a three- to five-second delay. During the delay, a black powder column would burn down to the blasting cap before the grenade detonated.
“Do not do this,” the colonel said. “If you have an explosive item and you don’t know exactly what it is, call the local police and have them come out and exam it.”
John Ismay contributed reporting.