TAMPA — The grenade wouldn't detonate on the Fourth of July. But deputies say it wasn't for lack of trying.
An 8-year-old boy and his 41-year-old father filled the hollowed out World War II-style "pineapple" grenade with black firecracker powder and attempted to ignite it.
When that didn't work, deputies say, someone stuck it in a large flower pot on the top shelf of an entertainment center.
On Thursday, deputies say, the boy tried again.
Edward George Weise III, now 9, was flown to Tampa General Hospital Thursday after the grenade exploded at 5:25 p.m. in his kitchen, critically injuring him.
Moments before the explosion, Weise's mother, Ann Marie Weise, 39, saw the boy holding a metal lighter and told him to put it away. Weise told deputies she was in a different room when she heard the blast.
Deputies say she purchased at least one inert grenade two years ago at an auction on U.S. 98 in Lakeland.
Through a hospital spokeswoman, both she and the boy's father declined comment.
The Florida Department of Children and Families confirmed it is investigating the matter, which is typical in cases like this involving children.
The boy lives in the house, on 8625 Sunnydale Lane, with both of his parents, his mother's boyfriend, Larry Busby, 46, and his stepsister, Stephanie Weise, 20.
Deputies found marijuana and drug paraphernalia in the master bedroom shared by Busby and Ann Marie Weise. Polk County sheriff's spokeswoman Donna Wood said no one has been arrested, but charges are pending.
Jeffrey Weise, the boy's uncle, said the accident involving "Little Eddie" is the latest in a string of tragedies for the family. The child's sister, Melissa, died from cancer in 2004 at age 12, he said.
"It's been tough for them," he said.
According to the Ledger in Lakeland, Weise ran to her son, took him outside and cradled him in a red blanket before paramedics flew Edward to TGH by medical helicopter.
The mother was not injured, but Wood said she was taken to the hospital as a precaution.
Born in New York, Eddie moved as a young child to Florida with his family. He is enrolled as a second-grader at Churchwell Elementary, according to a school official.
"He's a good kid," said Jeffrey Weise, who lives in Georgia. "He's a little wild and curious. But he's a good kid."
The DCF received a call about the grenade explosion through the state's abuse hot line. Ann Berner, a DCF administrator, could not say who reported it, but she said the department is working with the family to ensure there aren't other safety concerns.
She said the boy has not been the subject of any DCF investigations in the past. She could not speak to whether his parents have been investigated before.
Eddie had surgery Thursday night. His uncle said the boy's father has been by his side since.
Florida records indicate no past arrests for Edward Weise Jr., now 42. Ann Marie Weise was arrested once in 2007 on larceny charge.
Busby has had 16 arrests, including multiple convictions that led to more than 11 years in prison for grand theft, burglary and grand theft auto.
Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3383.