TAMPA — It sat in a cardboard box for days as students in the bustling University of South Florida library came and went:
A rusty red, pineapple-shaped grenade — tucked in with a menagerie of military relics donated to USF.
It waited there on the quiet third floor, where the university keeps its special collections, until somebody decided to unpack the box about noon Wednesday.
Once library staffers got a good look, they called the university police, who then called the Tampa Police Department's bomb squad. Students were evacuated from the library's third floor, plus the floor above and the one below, for about an hour. An emergency text message went out to all USF students, warning them to stay away from the area.
"It's one of those things, you want to err on the safe side," said USF Police Department spokesman Lt. Chris Daniels.
Good thing they did.
After bomb squad members carted the grenade away, they took it to an isolated place and detonated it. It was live.
Daniels said the box of stuff from either World War I or II had been dropped off by the family of a deceased inventor of military gadgets. Daniels guessed that the family hadn't inspected the box closely.
"They may have had this thing laying around the house," he said. "I don't in any way believe this is a malicious act. I think someone just thought this really couldn't be a real one. But here we are."
Another text message went out about 1:40 p.m.: All clear.
The students went back to their studies.
Times staff writer Danny Valentine contributed to this report.