Military officials destroy artillery shell, causing small explosion in Darlington County

Darlington County Sheriff Wayne Byrd says officials from Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter and the State Law Enforcement Division destroyed an artillery shell Wednesday night.

Byrd says it caused what seemed to be a small explosion.

No one was hurt.

Byrd says the artillery shell was destroyed in a safe location, but isn't releasing the exact area.

Some residents living near Highway 151 say the explosion was so powerful it shook their homes and even knocked pictures off the wall.

Employees at the Darlington County Historical Society was doing some cleaning at their building on Hewitt Street when they found the old artillery shell in the basement just after 5:00 Wednesday evening, Byrd said.

They called deputies after seeing gun powder still in the shell.

Byrd says they in turn called the State Law Enforcement Division who alerted Shaw Air Force Base to the situation.

He says they all agreed it was best to destroy the artillery shell.

Some residents have criticized authorities saying they should have alerted them as to what was going on.

Byrd says they knew there would be some criticism, but he doesn't regret how they handled the situation.

"We notified the dispatch center, if they got any calls. The county doesn't have a reverse 911. To put out a press release would just cause more attention. The best thing to do was to handle it the way we did," said Sheriff Wayne Byrd.