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Contractor unearths live artillery shell

A contractor excavating on Park Ave. uncovered a live artillery shell at about noon on May 1 and police called in the Essex County Sheriff’s bomb squad to investigate.

Danny Scirica, a co-owner of Sciacca General Contracting, of Lyndhurst, said his workers were grading property at 218 Park Ave., where the company had previously leveled a 2-family house, when they discovered the shell and immediately called in police.

Law enforcement officials described the metal mortar shell as 18 inches long and 4-inches in diameter with a live detonator. In military parlance, the shell is known as a “4-inch smoke round,” said Essex County Sheriff’s spokesman Kevin Lynch.

“Had it detonated,” said Nutley Police Capt. Anthony Montanari, “it would’ve been quite a disaster. The site is within 500 feet of Washington School, it’s very close to a 4-family structure, other houses and a (freight) railroad overpass used by Hoffman LaRoche.”

Lynch said the bomb squad transported the shell to a secure location where it is being held for pickup by the military.

“These things are found on a regular basis,” Lynch said. “We’ve gotten stuff from the (Spanish American War) of 1898.”

U.S. soldiers have been known to bring home war “souvenirs” from time to time, Lynch said.

May 3

Sometime before 5:30 , a vandal broke off the front passenger side mirror from a vehicle parked on Evergreen Ave. Police logged in the incident at 6:50 p.m.

An intruder tampered with the screen and storm window of an Oakridge Ave. home but never made it inside police said.

May 1

A dispute between a man and woman brought officers to Franklin and Chestnut Sts. at 4:47 p.m. After being unable to confirm the man’s identity, police took the man to headquarters where they learned that he was Sydney McDowell, 24, of Irvington, and had an outstanding warrant for $500 from Newark. McDowell was charged with obstruction.

Police said an 11-year-old walking home from school on Chestnut St. at 3:40 p.m. was injured when a classmate threw a large rock that struck the girl in her hand. The township emergency squad provided first aid. Police and the school principal are working together and charges are pending.

Detectives are investigating a 6:45 p.m. report by a King St. resident that several items were stolen from the resident’s home.

April 30

At 6:08 p.m. police received a report of graffiti discovered near the Nichols Park waterfall. Similar incidents of vandalism have been reported on previous days.

A Hopper Ave. resident reported a suspected phone scam to police at 1:27 p.m. after receiving a call that the resident had won money but would first have to send $1,600 before collecting the prize.

A car crashed into a school bus with no children on board at Myrtle Ave. and Centre St. at 12:15 p.m. and the driver was taken to an area hospital for treatment of non-threatening injuries, police said.

At 11:10 a.m. a woman reported to police that someone stole the fog lights from her 2005 Subaru while it was parked in an E. Passaic Ave. lot. Police said surveillance video shows a man at 3:17 a.m. stealing the lights before fleeing north on E. Passaic Ave. Next day, Victor Garcia, 22, of Belleville, turned himself in to police apologizing for the crime, saying he was drunk when he did it. Garcia was charged with theft and released pending a court hearing.

April 29

A Heatherington Ave. resident called police at 10:54 a.m. to report seeing someone taking the resident’s bicycle and fleeing south on River Road.

April 28

At 8:42 p.m. police went to a Washington Ave. home where a juvenile was spotted on the roof. Arriving at the location, police found the 14-year-old inside, angry with the youth’s parents and refusing to eat. Police took the teen to an area hospital for evaluation.

At 8:25 a.m. a realtor notified police that the realtor’s key lock boxes at a Passaic Ave. location had been cut off a gate at the property. The incident is being investigated.

April 27

A loud exhaust system led police to making a motor vehicle stop on Walnut St. at 4:26 a.m. where they arrested Eric Abreu, 20, for two outstanding warrants from East Brunswick and Fanwood. He was issued summonses and released with a new court date.

Police responded to a Kingsland St. home at 8:55 p.m. in connection with a previously occurred burglary. The homeowner reportedly found a garage window broken and items missing from the garage.

An attendant at a Washington Ave. gas station called police at 3:42 p.m. to report that the driver of a Subaru with Tennessee license plates had sped off without paying after fueling up with more than $40 in gas.

-Ron Leir

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