FAIR HILL — A man received an official warning over the weekend, after investigators determined that he was the source of numerous powerfully repercussive explosions that generated a barrage of citizen complaints to law enforcement agencies in Cecil County and nearby Pennsylvania, according to the Cecil County Sheriff’s Office.
The CCSO investigation started at approximately 8:30 p.m. Saturday, when deputies responded to multiple complaints concerning “shots fired and loud explosions” in the area of Blake Road, police reported.
“Complainants indicated that this activity has rattled houses, knocked pictures off walls, broke a window, cracked drywall and scared animals, as well as small children,” listed Lt. Michael Holmes, a CCSO spokesman.
The residents told CCSO deputies that similar explosions had occurred on Sept. 7, too, and also resulted in citizen complaints, which were investigated by a different law enforcement agency, police said. Deputes learned that complaints from residents in that area also were made to the Pennsylvania State Police and to a federal Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosive (ATFE) hotline, police added.
On Saturday night, after responding to the latest flood of noise and property damage complaints, deputies were able to locate the property in question and talk to the property owner, who acknowledged that he had been using binary explosive materials to make “exploding targets” and that he had been shooting them, police reported.
In 2012, Maryland lawmakers passed legislation that made it illegal to combine certain materials to create an explosive — without a license to possess the specified materials, according to Holmes. A person convicted of that offense could be sentenced up to five years in prison and could be fined up to $5,000, he noted.
“The property owner was allegedly unaware that he was breaking the law and was warned of the illegal activity. The (man) indicated that he did not possess additional materials and that he would cease and desist any future activity,” Holmes said.
CCSO officials reported that there are additional state and federal criminal laws that deal with the “use, storage and transportation of these binary explosives, depending on the particular circumstances.”
They also instructed that civil remedies are available to people whose homes and other property sustained damage that can be linked to the recent explosions in the Fair Hill area.
During Saturday night’s investigation by deputies, a CCSO supervisor contacted the Maryland Office of the State Fire Marshal, which is responsible for statewide fire, arson and explosive investigations, police said. The MOSFM operates a statewide Bomb Squad, which responds to emergency calls for found explosives and suspect packages, police added.
Bomb squad technicians normally are “responsible for aspects of the investigation, including scene examination, evidence collection, photography, interview and interrogation, and effecting an arrest when appropriate,” Holmes said.