By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
Police say the Waimea Foodland Super Market was evacuated for more than three hours Saturday morning after a grenade was found in the produce section of the store.
“We discovered it ourselves,” said Gil Hasegawa, the store’s executive director. Hasegawa said that the device was found by a produce department employee while opening a box of mushrooms that police say was shipped from Seattle.
“We evacuated the store and everybody was real calm. Nobody knew what was going on except for the person who found it and myself,” Hasegawa said. He said that neither he nor the employee touched the grenade.
Police say South Kohala Patrol officers responded to the report of the grenade at 8:18 a.m. and called in the federal Transportation Security Administration, according to a written statement. A TSA explosives expert stationed in Kona assisted with removal and disposal of the device, and the agency will conduct an independent investigation surrounding the shipping of the grenade, which police said was a training grenade without an explosive charge.
“TSA officials confirmed that it was an inert training grenade,” TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz said Sunday, and said further questions would have to be answered by police.
Police said the device did not pose an immediate threat to public safety, but is doing it’s own investigation of the incident as first-degree terroristic threatening.
Police Sgt. Richard Toledo of the South Kohala station declined to answer questions Sunday afternoon, directing the Tribune-Herald to the Hilo and Kona stations. The receiving desk in Hilo was unable to answer questions and the Tribune-Herald was unable to reach the Kona receiving desk by phone.
A phone message left at the office of the company that shipped the produce to Hawaii, Jetstream Freight Forwarders, was not returned by press time Sunday. The shipper’s website said the company “specializes in the transportation, warehousing, and documentation of perishable cargo” founded in 1997 in Seattle and touts that the company is a “TSA certified CCSF (Certified Cargo Screening Facility).” The site also boasts accreditation by the Customs-Trade Parnership Against Terrorism, International Air Transport Association and Cargo Network Service.
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.