THE LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL – MIKE BRUNKER
An explosive compound like the one found in Las Vegas mass shooter Stephen Paddock’s car and home is believed to have been used last year in an alleged terrorist bombing in New York City.
Authorities say they recovered an undisclosed amount of the compound known as Tannerite from Paddock’s home in Mesquite and 50 pounds from his car parked at Mandalay Bay, where he used high-powered firearms to mow down concertgoers at the adjacent Route 91 Harvest festival on Sunday.
Police have not said why the 64-year-old Paddock possessed Tannerite, which is unregulated and legally used by marksmen to create targets that emit a small cloud of smoke when they are struck. Authorities also found ammonium nitrate, another ingredient that can be used to build bombs, in his vehicle at the site of the shooting.
Tannerite apparently was used in a September 2016 bombing in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood that injured 31 people. Various news accounts at the time quoted unidentified federal officials as saying that residue of the product was found at the scene.
Authorities later arrested Ahmed Rahami, an Afghan immigrant, and charged him with federal terrorism and weapons offenses in connection with that bombing and two others in New Jersey.
According to prosecutors, Rahami had posted videos praising a former leader of the al-Qaida terrorist group and decrying U.S. military actions in countries like Afghanistan and Syria on social media prior to his arrest.
Authorities found similarities in the explosive devices recovered in New York and New Jersey, connecting some of the dots between the multiple incidents over the weekend.
The bombs in New York and Seaside Park, New Jersey, utilized flip phones, although there were differences in design between the devices. The devices in New Jersey were made with pipe bombs; the New York City devices involved pressure cooker bombs.
“It’s very unusual for a bomber to switch up devices,” said Anthony May, a retired Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) explosives investigator.
Information on how to make these types of improvised explosive devices can be found readily online, but sources say it does take a certain level of sophistication to make them work.
“You don’t have to be sophisticated. Building a pipe bomb is very easy. A pressure cooker is not that difficult,” said May.