In shrimp fisherman Mario Koole’s view, it was another case of no good deed going unpunished.
Rather than being praised for returning a torpedo-shaped bomb safely to shore after accidentally catching it in one of his nets, Koole was cited for transporting explosive materials, a misdemeanor.
“I’m not happy with this at all,” Koole said. “To me, this is a serious charge.”
Freeport Police Chief Ken Maltby said the citation, issued after Koole brought the bomb to the city dock, was meant to send a message, especially needed because of Freeport’s many chemical factories.
“We’re trying to discourage that - trying to bring a bomb into a highly populated area with so many chemical plants,” he said. “That’s not very wise thinking.”
The Coast Guard advises shrimpers in similar situations to cut their nets and let the bombs go, because there is no way to be sure about an old bomb’s stability.
A bomb disposal team from Fort Sam Houston concluded it was a vintage World War II smoke bomb used for target practice, said Freeport City Manager Gary Stone. But after it was detonated on a nearby beach, it became apparent it was a powerful bomb that could have been more dangerous, Maltby said.
“The longer it was out of the water, the drier it got, the more unstable it got,” Maltby said.
The blast was heard 15 miles away and rattled walls as far away as six miles.
Still, Koole defends his choice to bring the bomb ashore, saying he never meant to endanger anyone. “No one in their right mind would do that intentionally.”