PORTLAND, Ore. -- An Oregon company found itself in the middle of the investigation into the Las Vegas shooting that killed 59 people and injured hundreds of others.
On Monday, Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo confirmed investigators found Tannerite in the home of shooter Stephen Paddock.
Tannerite is the brand name of a binary explosive often used for long-range target practice. Gunshots make the targets blow up in dramatic fashion - with a loud bang and cloud of smoke. The company is based in Pleasant Hill, just south of Eugene.
“It’s problematic for us because now our product is being connected to a horrible tragedy,” said Steve Yerger, corporate investigator for Tannerite.
Sheriff Lombardo briefly mentioned the discovery of Tannerite in Paddock’s home in Mesquite, Neavda but did not elaborate.
“I believe it was Tannerite, I believe it was Tannerite,” said Lombardo while answering questions during a Monday afternoon press conference.
It is not clear if Paddock had Tannerite for long-range shooting practice before the attack or if he had plans for a larger, explosive attack.
In 2013, the FBI issued an intelligence bulletin warning, “Tannerite, or reactive targets, can be used as an explosive for illicit purposes by criminals and extremists.”
Police also confirmed several pounds of ammonium nitrate were found in Paddock’s car. Ammonium nitrate is a fertilizer that has been used in homemade bombs.
Yerger said the Oregon company called police in Las Vegas seeking clarification and to offer support in the investigation. They have not heard back.
Yerger said the company has no record of selling Tannerite directly to Paddock, although most purchases are made online or through third-party retailers.
Tannerite, which contains a mixture of ammonium nitrate, ammonium perchlorate and aluminum powder, is easily purchased.
Binary explosives are two-part mixtures of components that aren’t explosive on their own. They have to be mixed by the consumer and only detonate with a high velocity bullet.
Yerger isn’t convinced that investigators actually found Tannerite in Paddock’s home. He speculated it could have been a generic mixture. The term Tannerite is commonly used by target shooters, like facial tissues are called "Kleenex."
Additionally, the company investigator also questioned the relevance of finding exploding targets inside the shooter’s home.
“He took the lives of people with firearms and ammunition. In my mind, it’s a side note,” said Yerger. “It’s about as relevant as the type of truck he drove to the hotel.”
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