Pipe bomb discovery leads to temporary closure of Pier Park

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published June 6, 2023

GROSSE POINTE FARMS — The discovery of a pipe bomb at Pier Park in Grosse Pointe Farms the morning of June 2 led to a complete shutdown of the park as multiple law enforcement agencies converged on the scene to check for any other explosive devices.

According to a police report, a Pier Park employee discovered an unexplained metal object in a flowerbed east of the gatehouse at around 11 a.m. June 2.

The bomb was found in an area inside the park, near the pedestrian drop-off area, so it’s believed to be unlikely that it was tossed there by a passing motorist on Lake Shore Road.

The employee showed it to a fellow park worker, who suspected that the object — described as being about 5 inches long and an inch in diameter — was a pipe bomb, although he didn’t see a fuse. Concerned about possible safety issues, the second employee took the object with him, drove it in his Cushman vehicle to the eastern side of the park and threw the object into Lake St. Clair. Police were called, as were K-9 units and the Michigan State Police bomb squad.

The MSP bomb squad arrived at approximately 12:50 p.m. and combed the area of the lake where the device had been tossed with a magnet and a rope. After about 40 minutes of unsuccessful searching and the magnet getting stuck to the metal breakwall, a Farms Public Safety supervisor activated the department’s dive team, who arrived at the site at 2:50 p.m. and entered the water shortly thereafter.

As Lt. Wes Kipke monitored the dive, officer Keith Colombo and Sgt. Tim Harris did a grid search in the lake. At 3:35 p.m., Harris located and removed the object — it was found roughly 30 feet from the breakwall, in water that was approximately 7 feet deep. It was turned over to the bomb squad, who took X-rays of the object and determined that it was a pipe bomb. Two MSP officers cut the bomb and neutralized it and then took the bomb with them for additional study.

The park was closed and evacuated as a secondary search was launched. Two officers from Grosse Pointe City and one from Grosse Pointe Shores assisted as mutual aid. All buildings were searched one at a time. Officers also searched open areas, docks and dock boxes. The search started at around 4:30 p.m. and was completed around 6:30 p.m. All areas, including the parking lot, were found to be clear, with no additional dangerous devices found anywhere. K-9 teams from the Farms, MSP, West Bloomfield and Bloomfield Township conducted another search of the area but also found no other suspicious objects.

Park staff opted to keep the park closed for the remainder of the evening. The park reopened for regular hours the following day, June 3.

Farms Detective Lt. Antonino Trupiano said he couldn’t say much about the case, except that “everything is under investigation” as of press time.

“It’s the early stages (of the investigation),” Trupiano said when reached for comment the morning of June 5.

Police are seeking help from park visitors. Trupiano said that “if anybody saw anything,” they should contact police at (313) 885-2100.