Thursday, February 24, 2005

Mysterious device turns out to be a shotput

Bomb scare tosses cops
By Brock Parker

 Journal Staff
Thursday, February 24, 2005

Police called the bomb squad last week when a woman carried a mysterious device resembling a cannonball into the Police Station.

     They should have called a track coach.

     The State Police Bomb Squad has determined the mysterious device was a shot put, an iron ball usually about 12 pounds used in high school track and field competitions.

   "This is embarrassing to say, but yes, it was," said Jim Polito, the public information officer for Somerville Police, when asked Tuesday if the mysterious object was a shot put. 

     But when a woman walked into the Police Station in Union Square last Friday at 11:30 a.m. and plopped the shot put on the front desk, police didn't know what the item was. 

    The woman, who was with a friend, spoke very little English, but was able to tell police that she found the gray, cannonball-like object under her car at 80 Highland Ave., according to Police Lt. Jim Polito. The Somerville High School Brune Fieldhouse at 81 Highland Ave. is across the street from 80 Highland Ave. The day after the bomb threat, Somerville High School senior Chris Bo captured the shot put event at the annual Class A State Meet at Boston's Reggie Lewis Center with a throw of 53 feet, 5 inches.

     When Police Officer Scott Gamble inspected the spherical object at the police station, he decided it could be dangerous, so he called the State Police Bomb Squad.

     Police cleared out the lobby at the police station while State Trooper Eric Gahagan X-rayed the device and then removed it from the building wearing a bomb protective suit.

     Three fire engines and an ambulance responded to the scene as a precaution, and firefighters stopped traffic on Washington Street several times as the device was being inspected and removed from the police station. Several police officers remained in the building during the bomb scare.

     A few police officers and city officials joked that if the object was a bomb, it should be allowed to explode inside the police station. City officials have been debating tearing down the rundown police station. 

     But by Friday afternoon, Polito said, State Police were still trying to determine whether the mysterious object was a bomb or not. 

     Over the weekend, Polito said police determined the object was a shot put.

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