A bomb squad and hazmat team descended on a Bustleton house Wednesday afternoon after the 40-year-old son of the homeowner expressed concerns about his father’s well-being and weapons collection.
Officers recovered 20 rifles, 19 handguns, several grenades, liquid mercury, more than 2,000 rounds of ammunition and components to a pipe bomb after being called around 4:30 p.m. to the property on the 9700 block of Northeast Avenue, according to Lt. Dennis Rosenbaum of Northeast Detectives.
Rosenbaum said the 72-year-old man who lives at the home was hospitalized, but he declined to elaborate out of respect for the family.
The man, whose name was not released, was not yet facing any charges as of Tuesday, but police are continuing to investigate the weapons and collaborate with Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Authorities did an extensive sweep of the house after 7th District officers noticed several firearms in the living room, Rosenbaum said. The man’s family requested that officers remove the weapons from the house.
Bomb technicians were called after police found a grenade. The grenades turned out to be inactive. However, bomb squad officers discovered several live military-grade smoke bombs, Rosenbaum said.
In addition, police found components to a pipe bomb in the garage. Rosenbaum said the parts were arranged in a way that would have made it easy to assemble quickly.
Authorities also found what appeared to be a decades-old container of mercury, a highly-regulated chemical. It’s unclear why the man had the mercury, Rosenbaum said.
The homeowner was a dealer who has frequented the gun show circuit in the past, Rosenbaum said. He said the man did not have a criminal past.
“We believe he was more of an avid collector and maybe sold and traded military surplus and accessories to guns,” Rosenbaum added.
It appears the man owned the guns, Rosenbaum said, but authorities continue to investigate the history of the weapons. Almost all of the firearms were loaded.
There is no legal limit to the number of firearms a person can own in Pennsylvania.
If no charges are filed, the man or his family could petition to get the weapons back after a certain amount of time, Rosenbaum said. Otherwise, he said, authorities will destroy the guns.
Police will also test the guns to determine if they are connected with criminal activity, Rosenbaum said. ••