EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


August 28, 2013

River cleanup yields handgun that startled volunteers

Police alerted, determine weapon is an old BB gun


Rocky Morrison, president of Clean River, brought three pontoon boats, which his group and the volunteers from Stanley loaded with trash they picked out of the mud. In all, they collected about two tons of trash and junk in about three hours. All the junk was delivered to the city’s highway yard on Primrose Street for recycling through a partnership Morrison has with the city.

The Stanley volunteers arrived with boots, water shoes and sneakers, and Morrison handed out work gloves and life jackets.

Morrison said the volunteers pulled mostly small things out of the mud, including three shopping carriages, 10 tires, five rusted bicycles, three fire extinguishers, the top of a coin-operated washing machine, as well as various children’s toys, blankets and many plastic water and soda bottles that were trapped in brush along the shore and had to be retrieved by hand.

“With a large group from Stanley Supply, we were able to cover a lot more area,” Morrison said.

When Stanley employee Jane Turner found the handgun in the mud, Morrison raced to the scene in his pontoon boat.

“I called police thinking it was a real gun, and they sent two officers to retrieve it,” Morrison said. “If someone pointed that at you, it looked so real you’d believe it was a real gun. And it was in good shape so it wasn’t in the mud for very long.”

Morrison said his group did find a real gun a few weeks ago while searching for submerged vehicles in the Methuen/Andover stretch of the river near Interstate 93.

“Our diver found a high powered rifle with scope near the old boat ramp behind where Bea’s (sandwich shop) use to be,” Morrison said. “He didn’t find any cars, but he did find the rifle, which we turned over to Methuen police.”

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