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CALL 6: FBI warned of exploding targets prior to NYC explosion

Posted at 9:17 PM, Sep 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-20 05:56:14-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- Authorities believe exploding targets, often sold under the brand name Tannerite, may have been used in a Saturday night explosion in New York City that injured dozens of people.

Officials found residue from an explosive compound at the scene in a New York City neighborhood.

Call 6 Investigates exposed concerns surrounding exploding targets back in 2014, including an FBI bulletin that said exploding targets could be used by criminals and terrorists to make improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Exploding targets are sold under a variety of brand names, the most popular being Tannerite, and they're supposed to be used by rifle shooters to ensure they hit their target from long range.

Call 6 Investigates found they’re readily available and easy for people of all ages to buy off store shelves in Indiana.

Call 6 Investigates found the products are being misused and abused, because people often use too much, stand too close, or place the product inside something that can create shrapnel.

Jennifer Plank-Greer, of Kokomo, lost her hand at a friend's house in Ohio on May 6, 2012, from a piece of flying shrapnel.

CALL 6 | Neighborhood explosions concern Indianapolis police, federal authorities

Call 6 Investigates found exploding targets for sale on area store shelves.

Indiana has no restrictions, but stores have their own policies.

It's easy to find videos on YouTube of people using the product to blow up items such as appliances and cars.

IMPD's Bomb Squad showed Call 6 Investigets just how dangerous the chemicals can be once mixed together.

"If you use it outside its normal intent, that is now an improvised explosive device, and that's illegal," said Sgt. Ron Humbert. "Kids are using it. They're taking it out in the country, on a farm, shooting it inside and outside Marion County with their long guns."

Using a controlled detonation, the bomb squad blew up a mailbox, a watermelon and just the container.

The U.S. Forest Service banned the targets on its property in five western states, claiming the exploding targets ignited wildfires that cost more than $33 million to fight.

"Tannerite brand targets are nonflammable and they do not start fires," said Dena Woerner, spokeswoman for Tannerite back in 2014.

Woerner said the leading manufacturer of exploding targets is launching a letter-writing campaign to people with YouTube videos abusing the product.

"If it's used properly and for what is intended, it's a safe product," said Woerner. "We have a plea for common sense."

Woerner said the company strongly encourages people to not misuse the product.

"We strictly state you need to be at least 100 yards away for every one pound you shoot," said Woener.
Experts say if you do use exploding targets, make sure to follow the manufacturer's guidelines and keep a safe distance.

Once the two chemicals are mixed, you need a federal permit to transport it because it's then considered an explosive.

State Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, recently introduced a bill that would restrict the sale of exploding targets, products used by rifle shooters to ensure they’ve hit their target from long range.

The legislation would have required Indiana retailers secure the product behind a counter or in a locked display case, and for retailers to not sell exploding targets to customers under the age of 18..

The bill failed to pass.