NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The older of the two Boston bombing suspects bought two mortar kits from a New Hampshire fireworks store in February — the same company that sold fireworks to the man accused of a failed Times Square car bombing in 2010, company officials said.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev bought two “Lock and Load” reloadable mortar kits containing 24 shells each on the evening of Feb. 6, said April Walton, the manager of Phantom Fireworks in Seabrook.
He paid $200 cash but scanned his driver’s license into the company’s computer system as required by store policy.
“We have a bank of computers at the front end where we greet everyone and hand out safety flyers,” she said. “He was just an average customer. — He signed in, walked around and purchased the kits with cash.”
Walton wasn’t in the store at the time but said the employee who handled the sale described it as a routine transaction.
“I just remember him asking for the biggest, loudest stuff,” said store clerk Megan Kerns.
Tsarnaev, 26, and his younger brother, Dzhokhar, 19, are accused of setting off the bombs that killed three people and wounded more than 180 others on April 15. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a police shootout, while Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured alive but badly wounded.
The amount of gunpowder that could be harvested from the kits, less than a pound and a half, would not have been enough to detonate the Boston bombs, company Vice President William Weimer said, although it’s possible some of that powder may have been used.
The absence of colored smoke in the Boston explosions and other special effects powders mixed in with the fireworks’ blast powder suggests the bombers sought and used an alternate fuel source, he said.
“My suspicion is they experimented with this, decided they couldn’t get enough powder out of them and went to look for another fuel,” Weimer said.
Weimer said the company checked its records and found Tsarnaev’s name seconds after investigators released the suspect’s identity.