Bomb squad called in after artillery shell found in closet of League Street residence
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

Jan. 8, 2006 -- If you thought you heard a high-powered weapon being discharged at the western edge of town Friday night, you weren't imagining it.

A specially trained bomb squad out of Barksdale Air Force Base was called to Sulphur Springs Friday evening after a 4.7 inch artillery round was found at a League Street residence.

Sheriff's deputies and a task force investigator initially went to the residence Friday afternoon to serve a 41-year-old Sulphur Springs man with a felony warrant for criminal mischief resulting in $1,500 damage to the family member's League Street residence where he was staying.

After taking the man into custody, Investigators Lewis Tatum and Charles Humphries, and deputies Ron England and Brad Horton with Hopkins County Sheriff's Office, along with drug task force Investigator Matt Hooper, "cleared the house" to make sure it was secure for the residents to safely return home, according to Tatum.

While conducting the search, officers located a 4.7 inch artillery round, like those used in Vietnam, in a closet. Due to the danger represented by the shell, officials at Barksdale Air Force Base were contacted for advice. The area around the residence was cordoned off with police tape to prevent anyone from entering the area until the specially trained Barksdale team arrived to take action and determine the exact nature of the threat.

The specially trained crew used X-ray equipment on the artillery round on the front lawn to determine the "bomb" still had too many active parts. The team then determined it would be more prudent to disperse the round locally than to try to transport it back to the Arkansas base with them.

The explosive device was taken to the local firing range on the outskirts of town, where it detonated with a loud boom and upward explosion under the watchful eye of the service personnel.

Officials said they are still uncertain where the artillery round came from or how it ended up in the League Street closet, but did note that had it gone off, it would have caused significant damage to the house and anything within 300 feet of the explosion.

Although not the first artillery round found in the county, the one found Friday was certainly the first that was found fully intact in a residential closet, according to investigators. The League Street residents, at the removal of the explosive device, were allowed to return to their residence. No charges related to the device were filed against the residents.

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