Explosives seized at Great Cacapon home
A Great Cacapon man faces charges of illegal possession and use of explosives following an investigation by West Virginia State Police, the State Fire Marshal’s Office and federal Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF) agents.
Matthew Dean Smith, 32, is accused of having an array of explosive materials and devices that he demonstrated for county and state police last month. He allegedly had no state permits to possess, use or transport the explosives.
Smith’s business, known as Smith Industries LLC or Sure Shot Exploding Targets, is based in Maryland. His West Virginia business license expired in June, according to authorities.
Explosions in Long Hollow
Corporal L. A. Faircloth of the Martinsburg State Police barracks began the investigation on September 8 in response to a complaint from the Governor’s Office.
On September 7, the Governor’s Office and Morgan County 911 had received calls from residents of the Long Hollow Lane area near Great Cacapon. They complained of multiple loud, rumbling explosions that shook homes.
Callers to 911 were told that Smith was demonstrating explosives at his Long Hollow Lane property. He hoped to sell some of the explosives to Sheriff Vince Shambaugh for “breaching purposes,” according to the criminal complaint filed by Corporal Faircloth last week.
On September 10, Smith also took some of his products to the State Police Trooper’s Association Gun Match near Beckley and left behind some of the explosives, police said. That demonstration was apparently filmed.
Over the next three weeks, Faircloth, State Fire Marshal George Harms and ATF agents questioned Smith and other witnesses, served a search warrant and checked on permits.
Smith was also attempting to get an automatic firearms license at the time. When questioned by ATF inspector Tim Lang, Smith said he never transported explosives in his truck and that he worked with an FBI agent in Baltimore.
Agent Lang was unable to locate an FBI agent in Baltimore with the name given by Smith.
Smith also claimed he was waiting to be deputized by the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department, according to court documents.
Sheriff Shambaugh said he had been invited by Smith to watch a demonstration of explosives on September 7. He left that day with a box of samples provided by Smith. The materials were later turned over to State Police as evidence.
Shambaugh said Smith showed him federal permits, but he was unaware of the state’s requirements.
When police checked Smith’s inventory list against the explosives still on hand, they found missing material. Smith said that he hadn’t had time to update his list since the demonstrations earlier in September, Faircloth reported.
The investigators concluded that Smith had been receiving, storing, manufacturing and detonating explosives at his residence since last fall without a Fire Marshal’s permit.
On September 28, the officers from the various agencies reported confiscating a long list of explosives and devices from Smith’s property.
Items seized included 46 sticks of dynamite, five pounds of HMX, plastic explosives, a pound of TNT, RDX, blasting caps, oil well perforators, detonating cord and electric detonators, police said.
Smith was charged with a felony count of illegal possession of explosives.
In addition, he was charged with nine misdemeanor offenses alleging that he didn’t have the proper permits to possess or use the explosives, lacked the proper training to conduct blasting operations in the state, and failed to keep up-to-date records.
Taken before Magistrate Kermit Ambrose, Smith was released on $10,000 personal recognizance