POLL QUESTION

Knox County police try to solve ‘big bang’ problem

Posted Dec. 19, 2012, at 1:28 p.m.
Last modified Dec. 19, 2012, at 5:34 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — The Knox County Sheriff’s Office said it is trying to track down people who are mixing chemicals for target practice and creating “loud bangs” that have disturbed residents around the county.

The manager of a local sporting goods store, however, said he thinks the noises could simply be coming from a legal product and that some citizens are not as tolerant to others target practicing.

The Knox County Sheriff’s Office issued a news release late Tuesday about complaints of loud bangs that sound like explosives going off in the middle of the county.

On Monday night, a complaint came in from the North Union Road area in Union that was heard as far as Waldoboro and St. George a few miles away.

“These extremely loud ‘bangs’ have been heard periodically throughout the middle of the county,” Sheriff Donna Dennison said Wednesday. She said a citizen, whose name is not being released, informed the department that the noise is coming from a product sold for target practice that explodes when struck by a high-velocity bullet. The problem, she said, is that the citizen also told her the product was being mixed with other chemicals to make it more explosive and loud. She said that mixing would make it illegal.

She said the mixture was being used at an undisclosed gravel pit in Warren.

Dennison said while gravel pits have long been used for target practice, people should first obtain permission before going on someone else’s property.

The mixture of a legal product and other chemicals creates a potentially dangerous situation, she said.

Greg Johnson, a manager at Johnson’s Sporting Goods in Rockland, however, said he had not heard of the exploding targets being mixed with other things to produce a louder noise.

The Rockland store sells the exploding targets under the name “Sonic Boom.” Sonic Boom is sold in one-pound containers and consists of a granular product. Johnson said when the powder is struck by a high-velocity bullet it will explode.

He said the noise is similar to one of the less loud fireworks that go off on the Fourth of July.

Johnson pointed out that he has heard from officers that people who live near gun ranges that have been in place for a long time are receiving more complaints from people simply not used to the sound of gunfire and noises related to target practice.

The Knox County Sheriff’s Office news release stated that the department will proceed according to law in enforcing the efforts of trying to keep people safe.

The sheriff said charges could include the Class C felony charge of criminal use of explosives or the Class E misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct.

“Hopefully, those using this product will see this and act accordingly,” the release stated.

The department said if anyone has information regarding the source of the complaints to call the Knox County Sheriff’s Office at 593-9132.

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