BARSTOW • An empty grenade found near the corner of East Main Street and Eastgate Road caused law enforcement officials to clear a 300-foot perimeter for about two hours Tuesday evening, which closed down a section of East Main Street.
According to Capt. Nick DiNapoli of the Barstow Fire Department, someone called the Barstow Police Department around 5:50 p.m. on Tuesday, reporting having found a grenade.
Upon arriving on the scene, officers and firefighters evacuated people from the Chevron and Circle K gas station convenience stores and cleared out Barstow Station Cinema 6 as they secured a 300-foot perimeter, DiNapoli said.
"It looked real to me from where I (was) standing," said DiNapoli, who noted that officials do not know where the grenade came from.
Officers and firefighters waited about one hour for the bomb disposal team from Fort Irwin to arrive.
Staff Sgt. Robert Fortney of Fort Irwin's bomb disposal team confirmed afterwards that the grenade, which was hollow, was likely a novelty item that can be found in military supply stores.
"It's real. There's just nothing in it," said Fortney.
The bomb disposal team used two remote-operated robots with cameras attached to take a closer look at the grenade, which was wedged inside a black military boot.
Sgt. Adam Stoffel and the team positioned themselves about 150 feet away from the boot and grenade, which were sitting underneath a palm tree near Eastgate Road, while Stoffel maneuvered the robots while watching a live video feed on a computer.
Stoffel used the robot's pincer-like claws to pick up the boot and dumped the grenade out onto the middle of Eastgate Road, which was cordoned off at both ends. Upon examining the grenade and observing its light weight, the team determined that it was not a live grenade. Fortney and Stoffel walked over to the grenade and boot, picked them up and gave it to the officers to collect as evidence.
According to Cpl. Daniel Arthur, the Barstow Police Department will be conducting an investigation. The boot and bomb will be destroyed afterwards, Arthur noted.
Staff writer David Heldreth contributed to this story.
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