A pair of 100-year-old mortar rounds were destroyed over the weekend after being found at homes in a Mitchell neighborhood.
The Mitchell Department of Public Safety said it received a call on Friday afternoon about a German mortar shell being found in a garage at a residence in the 1600 block of Bridle Drive in Mitchell. The round was discovered when the homeowner was moving property in the garage, police said. Later, a neighbor who lived nearby carried a second, similar mortar round to the residence.
Mitchell officers on Friday secured the residence and the mortars, until Saturday, when explosive disposal personnel could arrive to remove the rounds. The items were later taken to the Mitchell landfill, where they were destroyed.
“These items were destroyed, as there was no feasible way to determine if the rounds were live rounds and/or to disarm the ordnance, even though the items were historically significant,” Mitchell Det. Lt. Don Everson said in a press release.
Explosive disposal personnel later determined that the rounds were not live, but had not been properly demilitarized, and had not been marked accordingly. The mortar rounds were destroyed without incident, authorities said.
The rounds were believed to be from the era of World War I and approximately 1917. One of the rounds was determined to be a German item, while the other round was determined to be from the United States.
“It appears that deceased relatives of both the homeowner, who initially reported this incident, and the neighbor who owned the second mortar round, acquired the rounds several years ago,” Everson said.
The 28th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit from Ellsworth Air Force Base and the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation was involved with investigating, as well. The Mitchell Department of Public Safety issued a reminder that the public should not touch or transport possible explosives, and to call 911 if they encounter potentially dangerous items.