The Pine Bluff police and fire departments, along with the Arkansas State Police Bomb Squad, responded Tuesday to a call of an improvised explosive device that was found by moving company personnel inside a home at 420 Edwards Road.
The house was left vacant after the body of 60-year old Chris Bertucci was found inside by law enforcement late last week. Bertucci’s body has been sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab, and a death investigation is underway at this time. Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies were attempting to serve an eviction notice when the man’s remains were discovered.
“Right now no one lives in the house,” Pine Bluff Police Public Lieutenant David DeFoor said. “The company was moving after the former tenant was no longer there. We don’t have a clue what his frame of mind was prior to the incident last week. Jefferson County is working that, so any background of the guy who lived here I have no information on. I know they sent him to the crime lab, but I don’t know what results Jefferson County got back.”
When local law enforcement responded to the location, the Arkansas State Police Bomb Squad was called, and it was confirmed that the item found by the moving company was an improvised explosive device.
“A moving company around 10 this morning was here moving property out of the house, and one of the ladies moving property found an odd looking device in the house. She picked it up, moved it around, and sat it on a shelf and noticed it looked weird, then they called the police department,” DeFoor said.
“It was a 20 ounce bottle with what looks like a hand grenade cap on it. It had a spoon and pin, and inside looks like black powder or gun powder. To be on the safe side we called the State Police bomb squad. They came out and verified that it is a legitimate device – that is really is an improvised explosive device.
“They worked to set it up out of sight and used a water cannon to basically knock it into pieces. If there is a blasting cap inside of it there could be a pretty good boom but it wouldn’t be enough to blow the house up. It may have caught the house on fire. It wouldn’t have been a large explosion.”
DeFoor added that “They will go around the house and the perimeter of the house to make sure there are no other devices on the property. They agreed to go through to make sure there aren’t any booby traps or any other devices sitting in there. This one was just happened upon. Nobody was looking for it, it was just stumbled upon.”
DeFoor said it’s been several years since the Pine Bluff Police Department has responded to an incident like this.
“It is out of the norm and not something we deal with every day,” he said. “We get calls about odd packages sitting in front of people’s houses or a business, but it turns out to be nothing. We get those quite a bit, but an actual legitimate device is very rare.”