Bomb squad called for mortar

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A 14-year-old boy found out Friday that a collector’s item he found cleaning garages may have been a live mortar.

The Youngstown Bomb Squad was called to Hertz rental cars in Boardman after the boy and his mother called 911.

Boardman fire officials said the couple tried to pawn the mortar at an area pawn shop, who turned them down because the mortar may have been live.

They then drove to Hertz on Market Street and called 911.

“When he brings old things home,” said the boy’s mother, Danielle Chalfant. “I mean, I assume that people take care of these things (and) not give a 14-year-old a live bomb.”

Chalfant said her son cleans garages in his spare time. From time to time, she said, he lands a collector’s item to take home.

“Something cool, unique,” Chalfant said. “Something cool to put to the collection. He took it home, put it in the bag and sat it in my trunk.”

Chalfant took the mortar to the First Choice Coin and Jewelry in Boardman. Store employees said the mortar may be live, causing Chalfant to panic.

“About a heart attack,” she said. “I was just shocked. I have two younger kids at home and they were playing with it. Just very scary. It is something I never want to do again.”

First Choice employee James Engel said they deal with antique war items but they decline to buy items if there is a chance they are live.

“We get all kinds of military things in so I did not think anything of it,” Engel said. “So I went and did a little research on it, looked at it a little closer. It is not marked inert, did not see any drill holes, so it could be a live round. Probably not the best thing to have in the store.”

At last check, the Youngstown Bomb Squad said they plan to test the mortar to see if it’s live.

“A lot of people buy them at gun shows and at their grandparents’ house,” said bomb squad member Robert Dimaiolo. “You know, grandpa had one from an old war and they are not dangerous but they can improvised.”

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