RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina newspaper deliveryman picked up a teddy bear on a rural road, only to have authorities tell him later a bomb had been stuffed inside.
Anthony Cannon, who works for The Shelby Star, said Friday he spotted the booby-trapped toy before dawn Thursday along his route near Lattimore, a tiny town about 50 miles west of Charlotte. Later, he circled back to pick it up.
"I thought it was real unusual to be sitting in the middle of the road," Cannon, 42, said by telephone. "It was pitch-black out there. When I picked the bear up some sort of container fell out."
Not realizing he was holding an improvised explosive device, Cannon left the bear and put the cylindrical item in his car for the 20-minute drive back to Shelby. He drove to his cousin's home, where he examined what he had found more closely in the light.
He says it was a small, liquid-filed bottle covered with tape with some wires coming out of it. Suspecting what he was holding might be dangerous, Cannon set the device down on the porch and dialed 911.
Among those who responded was a bomb squad from the larger nearby city of Gastonia.
"Within about two minutes of walking up, they said it was an IED and cleared us out of the house," Cannon said.
Cleveland County Sheriff Alan Norman said Cannon was very lucky. Though he said he couldn't speak to the construction of the device or how it could be set off, the sheriff said it was capable of causing serious damage.
"It could have caused personal injury had the device activated," Norman said.
The bomb was deactivated and sent to a lab. Federal investigators are inspecting the device, looking for clues as to who made it.
Another bomb was discovered in the same area six months ago. In 2009, authorities discovered two homemade bombs several days apart in Shelby. None of those cases has been solved.
Cannon said he and other local residents are concerned that whoever is making the bombs will eventually hurt someone. Even though he could have been seriously injured or killed, Cannon said he is happy he picked the bear up out of the road.
"If a kid had walked down the road and seen that bear, I'm pretty sure they would have picked it up," he said.
Follow Associated Press writer Michael Biesecker at Twitter.com/mbieseck