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Ellijay, GA
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This old ordnance was discovered Monday at Cartecay Thrift Shop and detonated later. (EPD photo)
From Staff Reports

The last thing an employee at Cartecay Thrift Store expected to find Monday when he emptied a scrap metal bin was a rusted, unexploded artillery shell.

“As you might imagine, it caused quite a bit of excitement down here,” said volunteer Royce Hughes, who explained the man who discovered the shell was ex-military and a recent graduate of Promise Land Ministries.

“It was like a 105(mm), and I couldn’t tell if it had been exploded or not, but I don’t think it had,” said the man who wished to remain unidentified, but  noted he served in a U.S. Army peace-keeping force in Egypt in the 1980s. “I looked at it and went, ‘Oh, Lord!’ When I was in Egypt I saw some unexploded rounds, and it looked just like them.”

When Ellijay Police Department officers responded to the call from the store at 374 N. Main St. around 3:45 p.m. last Monday, they found what they described as “a very old and rusted piece of military ordinance or artillery  shell,” according to a news release. 

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation Bomb Squad and the U.S. Air Force Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) team out of Dobbins Air Reserve Base in  Marietta  were notified and sent teams to investigate.

“During their investigation, the Air Force EOD utilized portable X-ray equipment to inspect the item,” said Police Chief Edward Lacey. “Research of military databases of explosive ordnances did not provide an exact identificatoin of the item. Due to their training and experience, however, the Air Force EOD determined the item to be a probable projectile from the World War II era, a 3-inch artillery piece.”

Where the shell came from is a mystery. Lacey said a warehouse was being cleaned out when the shell was discovered, so there was no way of knowing when the shell came in or who brought it. He said a city landowner gave permission for the teams to detonate and “neutralize” the shell with a small explosive charge at 7:40 p.m.

“Once the item was neutralized (it) was confirmed to have been a practice or training round,” Lacey added. 

He was asked if the explosion caused any concern from residents in town.

“It was a small explosion,” Lacey replied. “We didn’t get any calls that I know of. We notified the sheriff’s office, 911 and the East Ellijay Police Department that the incident was about to happen, and then once it exploded I received some feedback from some of those people that I had notified that they had actually heard the explosion.”

Lacey said the operation was “very professionally done.”

“I believe the GBI and the EOD both helped us out greatly,” he said. “I was very pleased, everyone responded appropriately. The people at the thrift store did the right thing too.”

Lacey requested the public take seriously any and all items which appear to be U.S. military ordnances and to call 911 in all instances where such an ordnance is found. He added United States Code requires the military to take possession and dispose of any and all such items. 

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