SPOTSYLVANIA, VA., FEB. 6 -- An 80-pound, orange-and-white ornament used to decorate a bar for the past year turned out to be an artillery shell with a lot more kick than the beverages surrounding it.
Eric Rich recently decided to sell the projectile, which he had found in the basement of a house he rented in Fredericksburg. On Tuesday, he took it to the Stars and Bars military trading post in Spotsylvania and was politely asked by a worker to remove it from the building.
"He thought it was live," Rich said.
Rich notified the county Sheriff's Department.
"The thing was rusted and in pretty bad shape," Deputy Donald Doggett said. "We didn't know if it was a dud or not. And no one was that anxious to find out."
The Explosive Ordnance Unit at the Quantico Marine Corps base examined the 20-inch-long shell and found that it was indeed live.
"There was no real danger of it blowing up by itself, but it should not have been handled by anyone not familiar with it," Warrant Officer Randy Gaddo, a base public information officer, said Friday.
Gaddo said military officials still had not determined what kind of shell it is or where it came from.
Rich said officials told him it was a good thing he had not stored the projectile next to a heater.