Oregon company Tannerite Sports disputes use of name to describe explosive found in Vegas
PLEASANT HILL, Ore. - The sheriff leading the investigation into the mass shooting in Las Vegas said Wednesday that the shooter had 50 pounds of Tannerite in his car along with ammonium nitrate.
Located in Pleasant Hill, Oregon, the company that produces Tannerite traces its origins to 1996. They make "reactive targets."
"When shot with a high-power rifle it produces a water vapor and a thunderous boom," the company says on their website. "Tannerite is the shot indicator target of choice for hunters, law enforcement, and U.S. armed services."
The company's corporate investigator Steve Yerger said Wednesday that he is skeptical that what investigators found is the company's product.
He said it's likely the sheriff was using the word "tannerite" incorrectly to describe a generic mixture of ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder.
Those ingredients can be purchased and turned into an explosive.
Yerger fielded similar questions in 2016 after investigators probing explosions in New York City said they found remnant of Tannerite at the scene.
“It either: A, wasn't Tannerite; or B, if it was, somebody was using it as it was unintended and they added something to it or they changed its property somehow, but they were still shooting it," Yerger said at the time, adding that investigators may use the word “Tannerite” for an explosive substance like some people say “Kleenex” for a tissue.
"There is no such object or commercial explosive called Tannerite," Yerger said Thursday in a Facebook post. "Tannerite Sports L.L.C. is a company that makes binary reactive targets that are labeled “Tannerite Binary Rifle Targets”. The word Tannerite is simply a registered trademark only, and as is not a commercial explosive or any object."
"Our products are long range reactive shot indicators for rifle shooting/practice; they are not designed to be sold as or used as an explosive," Yerger wrote. "When used as intended and as designed, these targets are not considered an explosive."
On Wednesday, Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said investigators found 10 1-pound containers and two 20-pound containers of "tannerite" along with an unknown quantity of ammonium nitrate inside the Las Vegas shooter's vehicle.
Yerger said he has tried to contact the Clark County Sheriff in Las Vegas and the FBI to clarify whether or not their product was indeed found in the vehicle or if the Tannerite trademark was being used generically.
In the shooter's car, investigators also found 1,600 rounds of ammunition.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), millions of tons of ammonium nitrate is used in the United States each year. While stable at an "ambient temperature and pressure," according to the EPA, it can be used as an accelerant for combustion.
In 2013, ammonium nitrate storage was responsible for the explosion in West, Texas, which killed 15 people, including first responders. Over 250 people were injured in the explosion, and it caused serious damage to structures miles from the explosion.