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Suspect in Bush grenade incident detained

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Georgia
George W. Bush
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

(CNN) -- Police on Wednesday captured a man accused of throwing a live grenade in a crowd not far from where President Bush was speaking in May in Tbilisi, the capital of the Georgia Republic, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry said.

The man was detained after being wounded in an exchange of gunfire in which a policeman was killed, Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili told reporters. He identified the man as Vladimer Arutiniani.

The official said police went to Arutiniani's apartment after receiving a tip that he might have information for the investigation. The gunfight began when the man opened fire, Merabishvili said.

He said authorities still were collecting information on Arutiniani.

On Wednesday night, the head of Georgia's presidential administration, George Arveladze, told CNN the suspect was Armenian.

Georgian officials have said that the grenade was Armenian.

Asked about Wednesday's developments, Secret Service spokesman Tom Mazur said, "We were not involved" in the incident but "we continue to monitor the Georgian investigation."

Although the grenade never exploded in Freedom Square, it could have, according to Georgian officials and an FBI agent. (Full story)

In the hours after the incident, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry had described the device as an inert, Soviet-era training grenade that posed no threat to President Bush or his audience.

The grenade was tossed within 100 feet (30 meters) of the podium where Bush, Georgia President Mikhail Saakashvili and other officials were protected by bulletproof glass.

Tens of thousands of people had crowded into Tbilisi's main plaza -- Freedom Square -- to hear President Bush speak on May 10.

A statement on the U.S. Embassy Web site called the grenade a "live device that simply failed to function." There was no disturbance in the crowd.

The grenade was wrapped in a "dark tartan-colored cloth," the statement said.

"We consider this act to be a threat against the health and welfare of both the president of the United States and the president of Georgia as well as the multitude of Georgian people that had turned out at the event," the statement added.

A reward of 20,000 laris ($10,978) was offered in exchange for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible, the embassy statement said.

CNN's Nastya Anashkina contributed to this report.

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