Artillery shell strikes house, kills cat

A New Jersey family had some scary moments Friday after their house was hit by a fiery missile.

A fragment of a two-pound artillery shell plummeted through the roof of their Jefferson Township home around 2:30 p.m. Friday, landing on their little girl's bed - ultimately killing the family's cat.

CBS Station WCBS correspondent Lou Young reports the shell was fired off from the Picatinny Arsenal, the U.S. Army's sprawling weapons research facility in Picatinny, 2.5 to 3 miles away.

"They heard the explosion, they felt the concussion and a few seconds later the piece came through the roof," homeowner Fred Angle said.

The sheer random chance of the event is staggering. Shrapnel came sailing through the air in an arc punching a hole in the roof the size of a fist, into the bedroom where 10-year-old Cassandra sleeps.

The piece of shrapnel landed where the girl normally sleeps.

The Angle family spoke with co-anchor Julie Chen about the tragedy on "The Early Show" Monday. To see the interview,

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Brandon Gadow, Cassandra's brother, tried to grab the shrapnel, but it was too hot. He pulled the blanket and the cat outside and called the police.

The family's cat was injured and had to be euthanized, but Cassandra was spared because she was picked up early for a playdate.

"Literally she would've been sitting in the bed with the cat because that was where she was before she left," Cassandra's mother Cheryl Angle said. "The cat ended up staying there when she left."

Base Spokesman Peter Rowlands said, "we deeply regret what happened and also the effect it's had on the family; the loss of their pet, and also the damage to their home, and just the fright they experienced."

The Army knows it was lucky - that it dodged a bullet, not to put too fine a point on it - and as a result all outdoor weapons testing has been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation.

Army brass will be back out at the house on Monday to talk about compensation for the family.

Picatinny is the site of the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, whose mission is to conduct research, development and engineering for weapons systems.

Ironically, the Army says the accident occurred while it was testing safer way to dispose of unwanted artillery shells.

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