Police investigate training grenades found at Fort Irwin school
FORT IRWIN • Military police are investigating two hand grenade simulators found on campus at Fort Irwin Middle School, which caused campus disruptions on two days.
School maintenance staff found the first hand grenade simulator at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, causing administrators to section off the area and contact Fort Irwin police, according to Silver Valley Unified School District Superintendent Marc Jackson. Police called upon the post’s fire department and the Explosive Ordinance Disposal bomb squad to disarm and remove the device from campus.
The next day, school staff found another grenade simulator in a remote part of the campus at around 2 p.m., Jackson said, causing law enforcement officials to return to campus and again disarm and remove the device. At that time officials also called out bomb sniffing dogs from the Marine Corps Logistics Base to search the campus for additional devices, though none were found.
The dogs returned the next morning to search classes and inspect students’ backpacks. They also found no more devices.
School district officials held an assembly Friday morning where bomb squad officials addressed the 7th- and 8th-graders to discuss hand grenade safety — specifically what to do if they find one.
Hand grenade explosives are dangerous, Jackson explained. They are the equivalent of two cherry bombs and can blow a man’s hands off if holding it when it detonates. The National Training Center uses the devices to train soldiers for war, simulating the loud sounds they’ll experience in combat.
“Hand grenade simulators — they’re explosives,” Jackson said. “We moved with swiftness to make sure we get those things off any grounds ... I’m just so deeply impressed with how quickly (Fort Irwin officials) responded to this.”
Officials still don’t know who brought the hand grenade simulators on campus, Jackson said, only that they were taken from the Box — the training area built to resemble a Middle East combat zone.
Parents were notified of the incidents each day with a letter home and a notice on their automated system, Jackson said. The school district also scheduled a parent meeting at the middle school at 4:30 p.m. Friday to discuss the incidents and allow parents to ask any questions.
Jackson said the school rarely has incidents with dangerous weapons like this, despite how close the campus is to the combat training. The last time the district had an incident with a dangerous device was three or four years ago when officials found a M-80 explosive, a large firecracker, at the middle school.
Police and school officials are still investigating the incident. Those with information about these incidents are urged to contact Principal Mike Sullivan at (760) 386-1133. Those wishing to report anonymously can contact the WeTip Hotline at (800) CRIME-78 or visit www.WeTip.com.
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