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Boy Has Weekend of Play With Loaded Rocket Launcher

March 21, 1988

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ An 11-year-old boy played with a loaded anti-tank weapon for a day and a half, thinking it was a toy bazooka, but never figured out how to fire the rocket, authorities said Monday.

Weapons experts detonated the 66mm armor-piercing rocket round on Sunday at a local gun club after the boy’s father alerted police.

The Vietnam War-era weapon has a range of more than 1,000 yards and the projectile can pierce more than 6 inches of steel, officials said.

Had Dennis Grigg, fired the weapon, it could have exploded in his face because the propellant in the projectile had leaked out, said Chief Deputy Chris Kratzer of the Sangamon County Sheriff’s Department.

But the boy never figured out how to operate the weapon.

Investigators tried to unravel conflicting accounts about how the boy obtained the weapon, while the Army attempted to find out where the device came from by tracing the control numbers on the launcher and projectile, Kratzer said.

The boy’s father, David Grigg, said he was working on a car Sunday afternoon when he saw his son pointing the weapon at him. Grigg looked down the barrel, saw something inside and called the sheriff’s office.

The boy told police that he got the weapon from a friend who found it in his father’s pickup truck, but the man mentioned by the boy denied involvement, Kratzer said.

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