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Military items found in house; bomb squad called

Bomb specialists from Hillsborough County examine and remove items from a container at the Sheriff’s Office headquarters in Largo.

SCOTT KEELER | Times

Bomb specialists from Hillsborough County examine and remove items from a container at the Sheriff’s Office headquarters in Largo.

Shirley Widlak was cleaning out her late father's home about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday when she found three items of concern.

There was a 3-inch-long cartridge, what looked like the hollowed-out head of a mortar shell and a pipe.

Her father, who lived in the 13500 block of 87th Avenue N, had once worked on torpedo triggers for a naval ordnance station outside Chicago.

So, to be safe, she and her husband, Edward, packed the things in some plastic bags, put them in a popcorn tin and drove the package to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office on Ulmerton Road in Largo.

There, Edward Widlak handed the items to sheriff's employees at the front desk for proper disposal.

They called the bomb squad.

Bomb specialists from Hillsborough County examined the items, which had been moved to a field behind the sheriff's headquarters. No one was evacuated from the building.

Edward Widlak said he took the military pieces to the Sheriff's Office because he didn't want them to go to a regular trash facility, where they might end up in a compactor or an incinerator.

"We were just trying to do the right thing," said Widlak, a 72-year-old Palm Harbor resident who is retired from a sales job with a printing company.

Asked why he didn't call 911, Widlak said, "I didn't think I should bother the sheriff. This looks pretty harmless."

Officials from the bomb squad said that at least one of the items appeared to be a device that Shirley Widlak's father once worked on, though without explosives inside. They said it was not dangerous but planned to take it to MacDill Air Force Base for further examination and safe disposal.

For future reference, sheriff's spokesman Jim Bordner said, if you find something like this, please call 911. They'll send someone out to pick it up.

Military items found in house; bomb squad called 05/06/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 7, 2008 11:56am]
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