By MIAWLING LAM
|The NYPD's bomb squad removes the improvised|
explosive device from the scene
Members of the NYPD’s bomb squad removed a live hand grenade from the basement of the Majestic building in Riverdale—more than five years after it was placed there.
Commanding officer of the 50th Precinct Deputy Inspector Kevin Burke said police were called to the 87-unit building located at 3660 Waldo Avenue just after 1 p.m. last Friday.
He said detectives were led to the improvised explosive device, reportedly a small pineapple grenade, after gathering intelligence from a man currently in custody and charged with murder.
Authorities said the grenade was discovered during a drug search and is part of an ongoing investigation by a task force comprised of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents and NYPD officers.
“He was very specific with where it was,” Deputy Inspector Burke said.
“It was found in a common area in the basement and on top of a venting heating system that runs alongside the top of the wall.
“You needed a step stool to retrieve it. We suspect it had been there for several years, maybe five to seven years.”
The triggering pin on the grenade was still intact, according to Burke.
A police spokesman said the device was filled with a low-grade explosive. It was soon rendered safe, placed in a large plastic container and removed from the scene for further examination.
When asked whether the grenade and the ongoing drug investigation were related, Burke said it was a possibility.
When the Riverdale Review arrived at the scene last Friday, members of the NYPD’s bomb squad, emergency service unit and disorder control unit were all present.
An explosive-sniffing dog was also deployed to sweep the building and ensure no other devices were present.
Firefighters from two units, including Ladder 52, reported to the scene and temporarily blocked traffic along West 238th Street but were called off around 3:14 p.m.
The Majestic has developed a seedy reputation in recent years, with residents claiming that prostitution is rife and that the building is a drug den.
Deputy Inspector Burke confirmed the building has been on the police radar.
“We have had a lot of complaints from the neighborhood about the various activities going on in that building,” he said.
The latest brush with authorities, he said, occurred on August 29, 2012, when a male resident was nabbed with a large number of prescription painkillers. He has since been charged with possession of a controlled substance and intent to sell.
News of the grenade initially lit up on social media sites after rumors abounded that the explosive device was connected to terrorism.
According to a tweet posted by NYScanner at 3:13 p.m., the FDNY originally reported that a bomb was found at the location and that it was possibly terrorist-related.
However, both NYPD and FDNY officials were quick to emphasize that the grenade was not a bomb, nor was it linked in any way with terrorism.