USF Library briefly evacuated after WWII grenade discovered

Students studying for finals in the USF Library were briefly disrupted by an unusual threat – an antique WWII grenade.

The third, fourth and fifth floors of the Library were evacuated around noon Wednesday after a hand grenade was discovered in the Special Collections Department on the fourth floor. Police gave the all clear to the Library at about 1:30 p.m.

Eileen Thornton, the Tampa library assistant director of communication said Library staff found the grenade in a box in the Special Collections Department’s donations.

“Special Collections was unpacking a routine donation and I believe this one was from an inventor actually, who is deceased, so it probably came from a family member or relative,” she said.

Thornton said the box with the grenade also contained aircraft parts and mechanical devices.

“It was painted red, which indicates the grenade was not active, but we decided as a precaution to contact the police,” Thornton said. “So (if it wasn’t active) it wasn’t really any kind of a threat.”

University Police Spokesman (UP) Chris Daniel said library officials contacted UP around noon, and floors were evacuated to ensure a “buffer safety zone” existed while the Tampa Police Department and Fire Rescue removed the grenade to make sure it was inactive.

Two fire trucks and 10 state vehicles responded to the scene, and the grenade was taken by the Tampa police bomb squad. TPD spokeswoman Janelle McGregor said the vintage pineapple hand grenade was disposed of safely.

At 1:15 p.m., students, faculty and staff received the MoBull text alert: “Attn USF Tampa: LIB 3, 4, 5th flrs have been evacuated. An antique WWII relic has been found & is being evacuated. More details to follow. Avoid area.”

Chad Gruber, a junior majoring in accounting, said he was studying on the fourth floor when police initially evacuated the floor.

“I heard a commotion and I took out my headphones, and two police officers told me I had to evacuate the floor,” he said.

Vanessa Wood, a University of New Hampshire graduate who was also studying on the fourth floor, said she moved to the third floor until it was evacuated “about 10 minutes later.”

“It’s a pain, especially since I have my board exam tomorrow,” she said.