Grenade Hoax Costly For City Of Tulsa

Monday, December 31st 2012, 6:22 pm
By: News On 6

Tulsa Police continue to investigate two fireworks that looked like grenades that were placed on Mingo Road in Tulsa Sunday afternoon. One was at the intersection of 61st street and one at 71st.

Police say they turned out to be harmless fireworks you can buy over the counter, but they looked like grenades and were smoking, so the police department had to respond as if they were real.

It turned out to be a very expensive prank for the city in terms of manpower and money.

Police say someone pulled the string that started the fake grenade smoking and left one at 61st and Mingo - then drove to 71st and Mingo and lit and left the second one.

The woman who spotted them thought they looked real enough to call police. The street was shut down and the bomb squad called.

 "Anyone that's seen that on TV or in the military would think, 'oh, that's a hand grenade,'" said Sergeant Jacob Thompson, TPD Bomb Squad.

"On closer inspection, it's obvious it's not. By the stickers, decals, labels, you can tell it's plastic, but from a distance, where it's safer to view it, it's pretty similar."

 12/30/2012 Related Story: Police Investigate Suspicious Devices In South Tulsa Street

To view a possible explosive safely is no small matter or fast. A bomb technician had to suit up and approach the device to take an X-ray of it and analyze it. All the while, nearly two dozen officers were blocking traffic and unable to answer real emergency calls that came in during that time.

"We only have so many officers on duty at any given moment and 20 of them, which is a large number, is tied up for fireworks in the middle of the street, it creates issues," Thompson said.

It's a felony to use a real device or a hoax one to threaten or coerce someone or to incite fear. The prankster could be looking at jail time. Not only are there consequences for the officers who respond and the citizens who live in the area, but also for the person who pulled the prank.

"Use good common sense. If you have some type of firework or noise maker that's shaped like a hand grenade, depositing it in the middle of an intersection is not the smartest thing to do," said Sergeant Jacob Thompson, Tulsa Police.

It's also illegal to set off any firework inside the Tulsa City limits, so as people prepare to celebrate the coming of the New Year, Sergeant Thompson's advice is have fun, but be smart and that includes partying too.

Right now, police don't have any suspects for Sunday's prank.