Rocket launcher left out with trash shocks Kingwood neighbors

Kingwood residents were startled to find a rocket launcher put out with the trash
April 20, 2012 3:00:00 PM PDT
On trash day you would expect to see trash cans, plastic bags and cardboard boxes in front of your neighbors' homes. But residents in Kingwood were shocked by what one homeowner had hauled to the curb: a military rocket launcher.

That HPD sergeant says he did nothing wrong. We talked to him briefly before he kicked us off his property.

Neighbors made the discovery Thursday morning.

"That in the wrong hands would just terrify anybody, as wicked looking as it was," said neighbor Jimmy Earl.

He owns property right next door. Earl called the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms as soon as he got a good look at it.

"In the wrong hands, you could terrify a street corner just by popping out of your car with this five foot long barrel of that," Earl said.

The date on the weapon says 1969. The ATF describes it as covered in cobwebs and dust, but they seized it. They tell us it is inert, that it did not have any firing mechanism and that no explosive material was found with it. Still not much of a comfort to those living here.

"I wouldn't want to live around here knowing that a rocket launcher was left around here," said neighbor Tonya Meador.

Agents say Houston Police Sergeant Robert Shirley lives there and had the device stored in his garage for some time.

Reporter: We'd like to ask you about the weapon left.
Sgt. Robert Shirley: There was no weapon.
Reporter: What was it?
Shirley: You're trespassing. Please leave.
Reporter: Can you tell us what it was?
Shirley: No, I don't talk to the media.

He went on to claim, though, that this was nothing to be concerned about.

"It was military surplus junk and I thought it was heavy trash day," said Sgt. Shirley.

The ATF says no law was broken here. Shirley has not been arrested or charged with any crime. HPD says he remains on active duty.

We worked on this story with the help of our Houston Community Newspaper partners. You can read more in The Kingwood Observer.

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