BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) are seeking the public’s help to track down a grenade purchased this summer at a Shallotte antique mall that could pose a threat to the new owner.
Investigators believe the entire transaction was an accident and neither the vendor nor the buyer knew the grenade could be dangerous.
According to a news release, the grenade was sold by a vendor at the Fancy Flea Antique Mall, located at 2773 Ocean Highway West near Shallotte, on June 13. Agents say finding the buyer has been especially difficult because the purchase wasn’t caught on camera and the grenade was paid for in cash.
ATF officials say the MK2 grenade, a style of grenade used during World War II, was thought to be inert at the time of the sale.
“For devices like this, you have a lot of collectors, veterans, people that are just interested, history buffs, so they buy these as a prop or a novelty item and that’s perfectly fine. There’s nothing against that, however for a live grenade, that’s considered a destructive device by ATF and its illegal to possess,” said ATF public information officer Corey Ray. “If you alter a device like this, it can change the way it functions and should there be material still inside that grenade with a functioning pin, it could make that into an explosive device and that could cause considerable amount of harm so it’s very important for us to help locate this bring it in take a look ourselves.”
The search for the grenade is a story that’s getting a lot of attention across the Carolinas and one that hits close to home for Lynn Holler and her husband.
“I guess the main thing is I just hope it doesn’t accidentally go off,” said Holler. “This morning I asked my husband ‘Did you see that story last night about the antique mall that we were just at yesterday?’ and he goes ‘What are you talking about?’ and I said ‘supposedly they think there was a grenade that they now think may be active and so they’re looking for people’ and I just thought it was sort of odd because we had just been there yesterday.”
ATF says they found out about this particular purchase through working another similar case recently. The search for the buyer is more than six months old at this point, but agents are devoted to finding the antique grenade.
“With so many tourists this summer, it’s very challenging to try and locate this item, but we’re hoping through these different channels, through word-of-mouth, social media, that someone might have seen something,” said Ray.
If you have any information, contact the North Carolina Field Division at 704-716-1800. Information can also be provided to the ATF by calling 1-800-ATF-TIPS (800-283-8477), or by email at ATFTips@atf.gov, or through the ReportIt ® app.