SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

April 24, 2013

Suspect bought fireworks in NH

Powder may have been used in explosions

By Dave Rogers
Staff Writer

---- — SEABROOK, N.H. — The president of a nationally known fireworks company yesterday confirmed that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of two men suspected in the Boston Marathon bombings, visited his company’s Seabrook store on Feb. 6 and purchased two intricate and expensive pyrotechnic devices.

Bruce Zoldan, founder of Phantom Fireworks, said Tsarnaev spent almost $400 to purchase two “Lock and Load” mortar kits at the Seabrook store on Route 1. The kits come with 24 shells, each containing black powder, that are inserted into the mortar and fired. The shells are powerful enough to reach heights of 200 feet before exploding into an array of light.

Immediately following the release of the two suspects’ names, Zoldan said company officials began searching all recent sales. The company has two other stores in New Hampshire in Londonderry and Hinsdale.

“We found the name, and we found the purchase,” Zoldan said.

Zoldan said officials immediately called the FBI, which is leading the investigation into the bombings.

It is believed that 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his 19-year-old brother, Dzhokhar, placed two homemade bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon and watched them explode from a safe distance away. Three people were killed and more than 260 injured as a result. The two managed to elude authorities for days until authorities released their photos to the public. Hours later, the brothers allegedly executed a MIT police officer and carjacked a Mercedes SUV possibly to escape the Boston area and conduct additional bombings.

But the brothers only made it to neighboring Watertown before engaging police in a prolonged gun battle. Tamerlan was killed early Friday morning, but Dzhokhar Tsarnaev managed to elude authorities for about 12 hours before he was apprehended inside a boat parked in a Watertown resident’s backyard. Suffering from multiple gunshot wounds, one perhaps self-inflicted, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arraigned Monday from his hospital bed and charged with using a weapon of mass destruction.

So far, federal officials have yet to determine the actual source of the powder used in the two bombs.

Zoldan said it was possible that the powder used inside the shells could have been included in the bombs used during the explosions, but stressed that Tamerlan Tsarnaev could have obtained enough powder elsewhere and in a far easier manner.

Since news broke yesterday that Tamerlan Tsarnaev purchased fireworks at the Seabrook location, Zoldan said his company, based in Youngstown, Ohio, has been inundated by calls from media outlets across the country.

“The phone is ringing off the wall,” Zoldan said.

Zoldan said his company would continue to sell the “Lock and Load” kits, saying they have entertained million of Americans over many years who have used them for their intended purpose. Still, Zoldan said it was disturbing to realize that terrorists could have used his fireworks to kill and maim scores of people.

“To have that mentality that you want to harm innocent men, women and children, it’s obviously very sad and disheartening,” Zoldan said.