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Pinellas Park hit-and-run leads to bomb squad visit in St. Petersburg

What started as a hit-and-run crash in Pinellas Park on Monday led to the discovery of a grenade in an abandoned car and the bomb squad being called out to St. Petersburg.

The grenade was inert, the Florida Highway Patrol said. Now authorities are looking for the driver of the abandoned car, who they believe was involved in the earlier hit-and-run.

The incident started at 10:26 a.m., when a silver 1996 Ford Taurus exited northbound U.S. 19 to enter eastbound Gandy Boulevard.

The Taurus' driver failed to yield, according to the FHP, and rear-ended a black 2003 Toyota Camry on Gandy.

The Taurus then tried to flee. The Camry's driver followed the vehicle but lost it near 85th Avenue N.

St. Petersburg police then responded to the area at 10:30 a.m. to investigate reports of two aggressive drivers. There also were reports of a suspicious vehicle, a silver Taurus, speeding south on Fourth Street N, then turning west onto 80th Avenue N.

The car's windshield was broken, police said, and the hood was flipped over, blocking the driver's view. The front-end was damaged and the rear-end was smoking.

Officers found the Taurus at 545 77th Ave. N, in the parking lot of Palmway Village Apartments. There was no driver in sight.

But when officers approached the vehicle, they quickly saw a potential problem.

"We could see what appears to be some kind of hand grenade on the center console of the car," said St. Petersburg police spokesman Bill Proffitt.

The Tampa Bay Regional Bomb Squad responded and determined the grenade was an inert training hand-grenade.

Officers had cordoned off the immediate area and warned residents to stay in their homes, but no one was evacuated.

Pinellas Park hit-and-run leads to bomb squad visit in St. Petersburg 12/14/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 15, 2009 12:13am]
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