Apparent misfired artillery round hits home, kills cat

By | April 12, 2008

— What may have been a small artillery shell slammed through the roof of a house in New Jersey Friday, and killed a cat.

The Star-Ledger of Newark says the six-by-four-inch object landed on 10-year-old Casandra Angel’s bed. She had left about 20 minutes earlier to go to a sleepover at a friend’s house. But the family cat was injured and had to be put to sleep.

The house is about two and a-half miles from the Army’s Picatinny Arsenal, which was conducting weapons tests at the time. Investigators think that’s where the non-explosive round came from.

Picatinny is the site of the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, which conducts research, development and engineering for weapons systems. – kg

…The base commander, Brig. Gen. William Phillips, and Lt. Col. John Stack also visited the home last evening, post spokesman Peter Rowland said. The homeowner heard a loud noise of something crashing through the roof and found the fragment had struck her 10-year-old daughter’s bed. Her daughter, Casandra, was not home at the time, Detective Joe Kratzel of the Jefferson Township police said.

“Thank God my daughter was not here,” said the homeowner, Cheryl Angle of Longwood Lake Road. “My daughter would have been in that bed.” Family members said Casandra had been picked up 20 minutes earlier to go to a sleepover at a friend’s house. A 14-year-old son, Brandon, was home at the time. Because the shell set a blanket smoldering, family members feared it might have started a house fire.

“It could have been a much more severe tragedy if no one was home,” said Frederick Angle who described a five-inch hole in roof. “The house could have burned down.”

The 6-inch by 4-inch, 2-pound “piece of metal was so hot you could not touch it,” Kratzel said.Authorities called the Federal Aviation Administration and Picatinny to determine what had fallen from the sky, Kratzel said. U.S. Army representatives “told us it was something from the arsenal.” The homeowner told police she discovered the piece of shell on her daughter’s bed, where the cat was sleeping, Kratzel said.

“It’s tough,” Frederick Engle said about their tabby. “She had a heart of gold.” Richard Rossback has lived on Longwood Lake Road for about 30 years and says there’s always been the sound of weapon fire from over the mountain. “It’s quiet for awhile, then they start testing their stuff and then boom, boom, boom,” Rossback said. “Sometimes it shakes the house and shakes the dishes in the cabinet. But it’s not alarming. You get used to it,” Rossback said. The base conducted three kinds of testing yesterday, base spokesman Rowland said. Those tests included 120-mm rifle bullet, static warhead testing, which is not fired, and 125 mm to 155mm shaped-charge munition.

While Picatinny has indoor ranges and other facilities for weapons testing, it also tests munitions in a restricted 100-acre area in the northwest corner of the base, adjacent to Jefferson Township. – nj

Lawsuit time. For starters the Army should act quickly, get the girl a new cat and give the family a certificate showing the cat died in the line of military service. Just to be sure, the family should ask the army to confirm that there was no depleted uranium involved.

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