Old Military Explosive Found Near South Jersey School

By Anita Oh

MANTUA Twp., NJ (CBS) — If you heard an explosion on Golf Club Road in Mantua Township on Thursday night, it was planned.

It all started when Gloucester County Christian School Principal Don Netz says he found a small device in a wooded area behind the school, where crews had recently cleared a path for a new nature trail.

“I found this little metallic device that looked a small deodorant can, Googled it and found out it was something that could be explosive. I called 911.”

Just after 4 p.m. Thursday, a dozen authorities, along with a bomb squad from the joint McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst base, arrived on-scene in Sewell to intentionally detonate the M203 projectile, likely a live round.

Crews stayed until around 10 p.m. that evening, and authorities alerted local residents not to panic hours before detonating the device.

“We had the FBI, Department of Defense, the Air Force, an X-Ray machine. It was quite an event,” Netz said.

Before it was a pre-K through 12 school, the 60-acre property was home to a former Nike military base.

But officials say students were not at-risk, because school had already let out, and the device was buried several hundred yards away in an area children do not play in.

As a precaution, school officials notified parents that the school would be closed Friday. With the green light from authorities, they hope to re-open their doors on Monday.

Mantua Township Police Chief Rodney Sawyer says first, officials want to ensure no other possible explosives are buried nearby.

Chief Rodney Sawyer says, “We’re looking into the history of the base and trying to find plans as well as layouts to determine what exactly the base was used for. No matter where you find any type of unexploded ordinance, the potential for danger is severe.”

The school buildings have been cleared for use, and Netz says he’s grateful it wasn’t worse.

“I’m thankful. As a Christian school, we depend on God to protect us.”


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