Tacoma, Wash. — A former soldier has been charged with illegally possessing a live anti-tank round at his home in Tacoma, causing the evacuation of a nearby elementary school and an order for nearby residents to lock down inside their homes.
According to charges filed in Pierce County Superior Court, Tracy Worwood kept an AT-4 anti-tank rocket at his home, saying it was given to him as a going away present when he left the Army.
Charges state the 44-year-old claimed he didn't know it was live, and potentially deadly.
The AT-4 is designed to be fired from a shoulder-mounted weapon, penetrate armor, and destroy a tank.
Tacoma police, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and soldiers from a U.S. Army explosives disposal team swarmed around Worwood’s home on south McKinley street Wednesday after federal authorities were notified about the round.
According to a probable cause affidavit the projectile, designed to fire from a shoulder mounted weapon and pierce armor, “pierced a 3/5 inch thick steel plate” in a protective container when it was destroyed by a bomb squad.
The discovery of the explosive on Wednesday sparked a massive lock down and evacuation in the south Tacoma neighborhood where Worwood lives. Students at Sheridan elementary school were hustled onto buses and residents told to stay indoors until it was safe.
Deanna Lopez spoke with KIRO 7 by telephone from her home where she was sheltering after receiving the warning.
“There’s been a reported explosive device in your area,” Lopez said, repeating the message she received. “We ask that you do not leave your house.”
Lopez said she was in her home with her 3-year-old child and 74-year-old mother, pacing anxiously because of what was happening outside.
“It just makes you a little nervous when they say there’s an explosive device, and they don’t know where it’s at.”
At Sheridan elementary school just blocks away, students were hustled onto buses and evacuated. Tacoma schools spokesman Dan Voelpel said the district was notified first to lockdown, then told to clear out the school.
“We have not had an evacuation of this scale in at least size years that I’ve been working at the district,” Voelpel said.
Students were taken to Boze elementary to be reunited with their parents.
The affidavit states Worwood had the rocket since he left the Army on an "other than honorable" discharge in 2005 and recently put it on his roof for safe keeping after his son found it.
Worwood pleaded not guilty to charges of illegally possessing explosives and reckless endangerment. He was freed without bail.