An early-morning traffic stop on the U.S. 60 near Wickenburg Saturday placed a police officer within inches of a man with a "pineapple-type grenade," according to authorities.
The traffic stop made about 7 a.m. after a blue Dodge Intrepid was spotted "driving erratically westbound on U.S. 60 in the Wickenburg area" was made after the license plate came back reported stolen from the Phoenix area, according to Harold Sanders, spokesman for the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
Sanders said a license-plate check before the traffic stop indicated the theft reported by the Phoenix Police Department. He said the vehicle came to a stop in the parking lot of a McDonald's restaurant.
According to police reports, the officer approached the vehicle, and while talking with the driver, observed several indicators of impairment. Sanders said the driver was instructed to leave the vehicle, and that is when the suspect, identified as Jose Santos Cruz of El Salvador, turned his back on the officer while still inside of the vehicle and pulled what appeared to be a hand grenade from the waistband of his pants.
Sanders said the DPS officer wrestled Cruz to the ground, which caused the hand grenade to fall. The device did not detonate upon impact, according to police reports.
Sanders said the driver was handcuffed and placed in the back seat of the officer's vehicle, and the officer instructed bystanders in the parking lot to clear the area. The officer also entered the McDonald's restaurant and informed employees and customers to evacuate the area.
The Wickenburg Police Department, fire department, and DPS Explosives Ordnance Disposal Unit responded to the scene, Sanders said. He said a perimeter of 300 feet was established around the grenade.
According to police reports, the explosives ordnance unit determined that the device was an actual military-grade "pineapple" hand grenade. Authorities reported "that the device was inert but had the capacity to be made an active device."
Sanders said the car was confirmed to be stolen from the Phoenix area, and the license plate was also confirmed to be stolen in a separate case. Sanders said the incident is still under investigation, and that Cruz faces charges of driving while under the influence, theft and possession of a stolen license plate, theft and possession of a stolen vehicle, aggravated assault on a police officer and misconduct with a weapon simulated explosive device.