Friday, November 16, 2001

Targets triggered fire


ATF gathers evidence from site of destroyed store

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — Exploding targets are the focus of a federal investigation after a box of the devices apparently caused an explosion that destroyed a military surplus store, sending four people to the hospital.

        “Our agency will look at this case from an explosives industry standpoint to see if exploding targets need to be regulated,” said Christopher J. Tardio, resident agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

[photo] ATF agent Christopher J. Tardio (right) and another agent look over boxes of exploding targets Thursday.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
| ZOOM |
        He said evidence gathered by the Cincinnati field office will be sent to the agency's Washington, D.C., lab for analysis.

        A gun discharged accidentally Wednesday afternoon inside the Land, Air & Sea military surplus store at 1733 Monmouth St., and the bullet struck a box of 300 exploding targets sitting on the floor behind a display case.

        Newport Police Lt. Phil Liles said one target exploded, causing a chain reaction. The resulting blast and fire nearly leveled the cinder-block building.

        Mr. Tardio said Washington officials would make the final decision on whether to place further restrictions on the target-practice devices. The U.S. Department of Transportation, which regulates the packaging and transfer of explosives, would be a partner in any decision, Mr. Tardio said. He couldn't say how long the investigation might take.

        Exploding targets, which are about the size of a match box, are used for target practice. Mr. Tardio said the small blast each target makes allows shooters to know from a distance if they hit their target.

        The targets are a Class C explosive, Mr. Tardio said, and are not regulated by the ATF. Firecrackers are another example of Class C explosives.

        Possible regulations could involve storage, transportation and packaging of the targets.

        Darrel Johnson, the owner of the gun that accidentally discharged, and store owner Karen Embs were released Thursday from St. Luke Hospital East, a nursing supervisor said.

        Two other men in the store Wednesday, Khader and Basem Sbeih, were treated for injuries at St. Luke East and sent home to recover, according to a nursing supervisor. The two men own the Covington Deli-Mart store at 12th and Lee streets, where police say one of the men killed a would-be robber who started shooting at them Monday night.

        The Sbeihs' had gone to the Newport surplus store to buy another gun because Covington police had taken their weapon as evidence after Monday's shooting.

        Police said the men wanted to purchase another gun for their own protection before reopening the store.
       
       

       



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- Targets triggered fire