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Avery County Sheriff Mike Henley Closes Case on Old Mortar Shell Found in Minneapolis Community

By Tim Gardner

The recent case involving an old military issue mortar shell being found in the Minneapolis Community of Avery County has been closed, Sheriff Mike Henley told High Country Press.

On Friday June 9, at approximately 8:00 p.m., two people in the Minneapolis community of Avery County found what appeared to be a mortar shell located in the water of the Toe River. One of the subjects reported what they saw to the Avery County Sheriff’s Office, which responded to the area to determine what exactly was discovered and the course of action that was needed. 

Upon arrival, Avery law enforcement authorities saw the mortar shell and immediately contacted the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) Bomb Disposal Unit to assist in identifying and conducting the disposal of the ordinance in question.  

At approximately 12:00 midnight on Saturday, June 10, SBI bomb technicians removed the mortar shell from Toe River out of extreme caution and transported it to a safe location, detonated the ordinance safely, and disposed of it without further incident.

Henley noted that he and other law enforcement authorities involved with the mortar shell investigation have not determined how it got into Toe River and the Minneapolis Community, how long it may have been there, and where it may have come from.

“The found mortar shell could have come from many places and people,” Henley said.  “An old military veteran of World War I or World War II may have brought it back as a souvenir as it would appear to be of that vintage from the way it looked.  Of course, it could have been washed away from other places and wound up where it was found.  It could also have become dislodged and fallen off of a supply truck of some sort into the water. There’s a seemingly endless list of possibilities. But the case has been closed.”

Henley added that no other related devices were found in the Minneapolis vicinity or anywhere else in the county.

Henley said he encourages any citizen of, or visitor to, Avery County, who sees a military or other potentially highly-explosive weapon, or more than one, in an odd place to immediately report it or them to the Sheriff’s Office by calling 911 while in the county or (828) 733-2071 at any time so law enforcement authorities can investigate and determine, what, if any, course of action is needed involving them.