Police suspect exploding target caused blast near Union Mills

2014-01-14T17:09:00Z 2014-01-15T00:33:08Z Police suspect exploding target caused blast near Union MillsStan Maddux Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
January 14, 2014 5:09 pm  • 

A device intended as an exploding target is suspected in a powerful blast in a Union Mills neighborhood.

Who was responsible remained unknown Tuesday.

"It rocked my house," said John Zepik, who has a friend who also heard the explosion from nearly 2 miles away.

Zepik lives close enough to see the 15- by 25-foot spray pattern left by the device suspected to be a Tannerite, a commercially made target that explodes when struck by a round from a high-powered rifle.

"It was a big concussion boom," said Zepick, a member of the Noble Township Volunteer Fire Department.

Zepick said he was watching football Sunday afternoon when the device went off, upsetting everyone in the home including his 3-year-old granddaughter and dogs.

He also heard what sounded like several gunshots.

Zepick called LaPorte County police then went out with his neighbors to find the source of the noise and came across a bare spot in the snow where dirt was scattered along with bark off the base of a tree in the area of 800 South and Madura Road.

Police said there were no remnants of the actual device but recovered within a short distance from the blast were four casings from two different high-powered rifles.

LaPorte County police fire investigator Mike Raymer said it takes something like a high-powered rifle to set off a Tannerite.

He said the devices are often used for target practice by sharpshooters who don't want to walk a mile or two to see if they hit their target.

Raymer said Tannerites are made from ammonia nitrate and aluminum powder that when mixed together become explosive.

The ingredients usually inside plastic containers are stable and it's not illegal to have Tannerities, which are sold in the open market, police said.

However, whoever detonated it posed a danger because high-powered rifles were used in a flat area populated by about a dozen or more homes.

A white van was seen driving by not long after the blast, which created heavy smoke.

"It shook up the whole neighborhood," said Zepick.

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