Florida man, grandson catch sniper rifles magnet fishing near Miami

When a Miami-area man and his 11-year-old grandson embarked on their first magnet fishing adventure, they made an unexpected catch: two sniper rifles.

Duane Smith, 61, of Homestead, Fla., decided to take up magnet fishing to spend some time outdoors with his grandson, Allen Cadwalader.

“I was just watching some YouTube videos” to learn more about magnet fishing, Smith told USA TODAY. He bought a magnet fishing kit, complete with rope and some rope – you can find them on Amazon.com and Walmart.com; Smith bought his from the Adventures With Purpose website.

On Sunday, the pair walked to a nearby bridge over a canal and threw out the magnet for the first time. Within five minutes, his grandson had pulled up two shrink-wrapped A1 Barrett M82 sniper rifles, said Smith, a former US Army infantry officer.

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“We knew they were guns when we pulled them up, but we just keep fishing,” he said. “You’re going to get every other pitch or something. There’s a bit of excitement in it because you don’t know what you’re going to end up with, you know, a bottle cap or a $7,000 sniper rifle.”

After the duo worked the rest of the canal, they went home and cleaned the guns, which each weighed about 20 pounds and were missing barrels. “Once I see the serial numbers erased, it becomes a … federal offense to have them in my possession,” Smith said.

He called the Miami-Dade Police Department, who dispatched officers to collect the guns.

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The magnet fishing line used by Duane Smith and his grandson Allen Cadwalader to land two .50 caliber sniper rifles from a Miami-Dade County canal on Sunday, January 30, 2022

Detective Christopher Thomas told the Miami Herald it will likely be a while before the department can determine if the guns were used in a crime. “Judging by the photo, they’ve been around for a while. However, it will take some time before the weapons end up in our forensic lab. Once there, they are processed,” he said.

Smith told WFOR-TV, a Miami-based CBS television station, that the haul was “an absolute rookie’s fortune.”

For his grandson, the catch of the day, which also included scrap metal and fish hooks that could entangle birds, helps both do good, Cadwalader told WFOR-TV.

“Capturing weapons and saving the world means picking up garbage,” he said.

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