NC couple finds live Civil War artillery round on Kure Beach

North Carolina news

KURE BEACH, N.C. (WWAY/CBS NEWSPATH) — In Kure Beach, a stroll to find seashells and shark teeth led to a very unexpected find for a couple who just retired on Pleasure Island.

“This will never happen in our lifetime again,” said Patti Belanger.

This started as a hunt for sea shells.

“We were walking south from our house down to Fort Fisher. We look for seashells. Seashells and shark teeth,” she said.

But Patti and Kerry Belanger’s daily walk on the beach was about to turn into a treasure hunt.

“I looked down into about 6 inches of water and I thought, ‘What is that?’ So I said to Kerry, ‘What is that?’ and he says, ‘It’s a rock.’ But I said, ‘I don’t think that’s a rock,” said Patti Belanger.

Kerry started digging.

“It literally looked like a big bullet,” Patti said.

It was too heavy to carry, but she was not going to leave it behind.

“I wasn’t going to let it go. Yeah. No,” she said.

Kerry threw it over her shoulder and they took it home.

“We talked about it a lot. I thought, ‘We just don’t know if this is safe or not,” said Patti.

So where did she turn? Facebook, of course.

“We put that out there and immediately the hits started coming,” she said.

That’s when Patti says they decided to call the police.

“I was sitting in my chair reading a book and I heard a voice behind me say, ‘Hi are you the lady with the bomb?’And I hopped up and I said, ‘Yes it’s right over here,'” she said.

Patti says she was hiding it under a plastic bag on her porch.

“As I pulled it up, he backed off. He took one look at it and immediately the unmarked cars started showing up.”

And then Patti says the bomb squad showed up.

Lt. Jerry Brewer with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office says they determined it’s a Union 20-pound parrot round from the Civil War.

And…

“It was actually live,” he said. “It’s actually illegal for them to possess it. Any artillery round that hadn’t been disposed of and cleaned out properly is against the law to possess.”

That’s when Brewer says they took it away to discharge it.

“He sent us a picture and said, ‘I’m so sorry,'” said Patti.

Because sometimes making it safe doesn’t always mean keeping it in one piece.

“But I’ll bring you the pieces,” Brewer told the couple.

The next day, the Belangers got all the pieces and instructions on how to put it back together.

“It’s a really great story,” said Patti.

A story about a treasure hunt they didn’t even know they were on.

“Some people who are the Civil War buffs have probably been looking for this all their lives. We’ve been here three weeks and it literally just washed up at our feet. So we feel pretty cool about this whole thing,” said Patti.

The Belangers ended up donating their find to the state and it will be on display within six months to a year.

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