WATCH: Man shows us what’s causing the mystery booms

Posted on: 10:35 am, January 27, 2014, by and , updated on: 07:56pm, January 27, 2014

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) – It’s a mystery that has bothered some people in Chesterfield, Dinwiddie and the Tri-Cities for months. What is causing those very loud booms that sometimes shake homes and rattle nerves?

Over the months, theories arose such as mini-earthquakes, ice booms, someone even suggested a garbage truck flap banging against the back of the truck.

Now it appears the boom mystery has been solved. Watch this video.

Minutes after this video was shot Saturday afternoon, social media lit up with reaction and questions.

“Anybody know what’s going on with the BIIIIIGGGGG BOOM in So. Chesterfield?” Wilma Jones-Brown posted on the WTVR CBS 6 Facebook page.

Boom reax 01

“Anyone [know] what the big bombs are around Colonial Heights and Chesterfield County lines,” Hazel Halliday posted from Chester. “I heard [one] about an hour ago my house shook and my Windows rattled.”

Boom reax 02

CBS 6 senior reporter Wayne Covil has been tracking the source of the boom for weeks. Last week the man who claimed to be behind the booms came forward and provided video.

Justin Watkins, 28, says he is the source of the booms

Justin Watkins, 28, says he is the source of the booms

Justin Watkins, 28, said he is the man in this most recent video taken Saturday about 4:15 p.m. He said the booms are the result of target practice.

Watkins said he is using a high-power rifle to shoot tannerite, an exploding target.

“We do it for fun and target practice not for attention that just comes along with it,” Watkins wrote in an online chat with CBS 6 about the booms. “We have caused many, many [booms] and yes, [there are] plenty more are to come.”

Watkins said he shoots the targets in Chesterfield and Dinwiddie. He said he is usually positioned 150 – 200 yards from the target during practice.

He said he sometimes shoots one or two pound targets. It’s the larger targets (the one in the video is 20 pounds) that cause the big booms.

“Yes people get upset, but they live a different lifestyle. We live to hunt and fish and we love our guns,” he said.

CBS 6 senior reporter Wayne Covil is continuing to work this story and determine whether or not what’s causing the booms is legal. Click here to email the CBS 6 Newsroom if you’ve been impacted by the booms.


  • Liz says:

    Does he practice at 10pm?? That’s when I heard what sounded like an explosion in my back yard…

    • cinniree says:

      I heard it late at night too. Some people have to work during the week. We can go around blowing things up just for fun & hobby??? Try having a little respect for other and their daily lives but continue to enjoy your fun & hobby during normal hours ;)

  • RHM says:

    Couldn’t he find something else to shoot,say a watermelon,or a water soluble paint filled balloon? I think he just likes to freak people out as much as he likes his lifestyle. The explosives aren’t necessary to do target practicing at least,be a litte more creative

    • athynz says:

      Because explosions are much more fun. At least that would be my guess. Well at least now we all know what the source of the booms is.

    • Laura says:

      I’m pretty sure the article states he is 28 not 10 so paint and watermelon have probably already been done.

      • RHM says:

        Your statement makes so much since. I’m sure any decent parent allows their children to play with explosives and high powered rifles. I have nothing against neither,just safety and respect come in mind,which was the reason for my comments.

  • B Loa says:

    WHATEVER!!!!! Get another hobby! Your ridiculous actions are disturbing and frightening others! That’s BS that it’s just for fun,who are you kidding? Take up reading or playing chess, something quiet….oh wait, you probably can’t read. My bad!

    • athynz says:

      Wow way to rush to judgment there B Loa! I have a couple of questions about some things in your mini-rant that I am curious about and I hope you will explain to me.

      1) Why do you call it BS on that being done for fun? Honestly explosions can be fun as long as no one is in the blast radius, there is no damage to property, and no one is hurt. Which it appears that all 3 conditions have been satisfied here. Yes the booms were concerning when the source was unknown but now you know what is causing them.

      2) Why do you assume that they cannot read? Isn’t that a bit judgmental? Why do you equate something quiet with some thing that is an intellectual pursuit?

      • David says:

        Shyt for brains feels compelled to display his lack of understanding and intelligence once again. You go pistola pete.

    • Laura says:

      Probably can’t read? You know nothing about him except that he likes to shoot exploding targets.

  • He has been watching too much ‘Pawn Stars’

    • athynz says:

      Not that I’ve watched too many episodes of pawn stars – well 1 episode really – but I’m curious as to how that show pertains to this situation.

    • CO says:

      Sounds like you’ve watched too many episodes to even relate these two events.

  • Tim says:

    Isn’t it wonderful to live in a free country?!?!

  • wayne says:

    Sorry to inform y’all whiny people but what he’s doing is perfectly legal.

  • athynz says:

    I have to admit that is pretty cool! And from the video it appears they are taking precautions to ensure that no one is in the area other than them, that there is no property damage, and no one is hurt. Yes I’m sure the booms were annoying to say the least – especially if they were doing it at 10:00pm – but did they do anything other than rattle some windows? Was there any collateral property damage? Look at it this way – at least now the source of the booms is known. I have to wonder how long it will take for some knee jerk reationary to shut them down over something that really doesn’t affect others not involved – other than the noise issues.

  • MJ Price says:

    Who’s property are they on?

  • Joey Seay says:

    ATF classifies explosives.. They require permits and stuff.. Im too lazy to look up the legalities of “tannerite” but I’d imageine in a post 9-11 America, where you can type a word like “tannerite” without getting on some kind of watchlist, I imagine that this is probably illegal. If not at a state level, definitely on a federal level..

    • Big Joe says:

      Tannerite is completely legal and requires no permits because it is sold as two separate powders rather than as the combined mixture, it is even more stable when sold, and can be transported and sold in many places without the legal restrictions that would otherwise apply to explosives. You can’t detonate this with anything less that a high-powered rifle round, it’s that stable. You can buy it at any Gander Mountain or Cabela’s.

  • RHM says:

    Sorry,yes explosives probably are fun,but aren’treally that damned creative.I was merely suggesting something people wouldn’t be complaining about.What would be cool is ,since he wants to use explosives then using something like paint with that can splatter on wood,canvas,etc. Sell it on etsy,eBay,etc. Use some of the profits to donate to NRA safety classes for youth. Double win,and just maybe people wouldnt mind

  • sidsinatra says:

    What about local noise ordinances?

  • Friend of Bill W says:

    This is indicative of the area. It doesn’t matter what others say or do as long as I’m taken care of. Drivers on the road with blinders, shoppers treating workers poorly, shoddy workmanship….

  • ronnie says:

    first disturbing the peace is a crime and second this guy is a big time attention seeking d-bag.

  • Daryle Panek says:

    for those of you who are blind to what this is Tannerite is the brand name of a binary explosive marketed primarily for making exploding targets for firearms practice. It is a patented combination of ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder that is supplied as two separate powders which are mixed and shaken to produce the explosive. …

    so to put it simple it is sold as 2 products that are not explosives by themselves, hence forth not an “explosive”

    • RHM says:

      Ok,,you just conflicted your comment,you say the stuff he is using is an EXPLOSIVE,yet saying the chemicals used IF separate AREN’T explosives. Well somebody failed chemistry,didn’t they?

      • Big Joe says:

        It’s called a binary explosive.

        Definition: An explosive consisting of two components, neither of which is explosive by itself, which have to be mixed in order to become explosive.

        The key phrase of that being “neither of which is explosive by itself”. Two inert (non-explosive) chemicals that are mixed to create an explosive. Maybe you should be the one to go back to chemistry class….

      • Jenny says:

        yeah, like bleach and ammonia: not explosives, just cleaners, but put the two together and you get chlorine gas. Caustic even alone, but deadly together. They aren’t labelled or monitored for lethalness.

      • Everybody's a genius says:

        Joe I think what RHM,was explaining was he’s NOT using them separately. Jenny,bleach and ammonia cause which is I believe to be as mustard gas. Besides last time I checked I believe bleach has a warning label that states it may be harmful or fatal if swallowed,can cause SERIOUS burns. I found out the hard way that wearing sterling silver and using even a small amount of bleach causes burns,have the scars to prove it. Now go play nicecchildren

    • JP says:

      Same ‘design’ as the Ok. City bomb in 1995…. two non-explosive materials, until mixed together. Hope the state and feds and taking a look at this guy and his entertaining activities….err target practicing. Tannerite is usually mixed 1-2 poulds for target practice/effects, according to a website… not 20 lbs! Downright dangerous and illegal in my opinion. ** The concussion wave even knocks over his camera, and… was that ‘flying debris’ that landed on the ground in front of the camera?

  • CCClay says:

    I live in the country and yes people do target practice for fun, BUT there is a limit on that!! When someone wants to use targets that are this loud and shake peoples windows in that big of a radius is just pathetic!! There are elderly people (including my mother) that these booms have been scaring the hell out of!!! So there is a problem here!!! GROW UP!!!!

    • strong says:

      Ok WE LIVE IN AMERICA! FIREWORKS, GUNS, AND EXPLOSIONS IS WHAT MADE THIS COUNTRY. This is good old fashioned country fun. With good, old fashioned country boys. I know Justin Personally. If yall make a big deal about it, he will shoot one everyday just because.If you don’t like it, Shut up. Is the best advice I can give you.

      • scars says:

        If he is unstable enough to go off and shoot everyone if he doesn’t get his way, then he definitely shouldn’t have access to any guns or explosives. Surely not all country boys are this mentally imbalanced? I grew up in the country and don’t know a single guy who would continually do this knowing that they were disturbing others that much. The country boys I grew up with knew how to be good citizens and were raised to have manners. Now, if he is a redneck, then all bets are off. Rednecks are low class and not smart enough to understand the concept of the responsibilities of good citizenship. If you want to be able to do whatever you want, whenever you want — you actually want anarchy — not a democracy or a constitutional republic.

      • scars says:

        Actually, the more I think about it, I believe that your comment should be relayed to the authorities. He sounds like a dangerous young man.

  • E Z says:

    Pathetic…I’ve heard these booms as early as 6am…Fun???? some of us have to go to real jobs….there has to be some kind of ordinance…i like listening to music…maybe i’ll just pl;ay my outdoor speakers at peak for fun too-GANGSTA RAP at that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • LAM says:

    What strikes me about this video, supposedly shot Saturday afternoon, is that this guy is awfully excited and seemingly surprised about the explosion for someone who has allegedly done this as many times as the ‘booms’ have been reported in the Chesterfiled/Tri-Cities area. I’m not sure he’s the answer to the question of the source of the disturbance. He could just be an attention seeker, and the real source of the noise as yet undiscovered.

    • jamie says:

      It is him I grew up with that boy he’s always been a attention where and it is him causing the booms he gets all giddy n excited over everyone he does but he IS AND HAS been the cause of all the booms at all different hours he doesn’t think or care about others sleeping having to work babies ppl with health problems he could give a heart attack too he’s careless he’s a good guy but careless this is bs that it’s allowed to continue and does it at all hours of days n nights had my baby bawling scared to death the other night cut of one of his booms but he’s having fun that’s all that matters right….. -_-

    • jamie says:

      He has every right to do what he wants with his guns and target shooting nothing wrong with that add some explosive makes it more entertaining he’s no wanna be redneck he is a country boy born and raised I grew up with him I agree with the late nite booms r uncalled for but other than that ppl need to stay and deal he’s not harming no one he is doing everything how it should be safety wise and all so why don’t all yall get off his back and let him enjoy himself with his weapons like he has the right to do as a american citizen he is smart yall ppl r judgmental and ignorant point blank

  • Coranne says:

    There was a loud boom that rattled my house in the middle of Hopewell on Saturday afternoon about 4-4:15. I don’t think he was anywhere near there.

  • Josh S says:

    Legal – check. Safe – check. Fun – check. Carry on good sir. Now that people know what’s going on they shouldn’t be frightened. Liberals will be liberals and they’re going to cry about anything gun related. What you’re doing is perfectly fine and if I had a little extra money laying around I would practice with tanneries as well.

  • Joe says:

    no, just no, lol.

  • Stacy Longo says:

    granted, its cool… but there are restrictions on transportation and carrying of tannerite. I love guns, I own quite a few and I enjoy them. My only concern is the compound itsself being carried from location to location to detonate. Not only that but potential impacts to the possible underground utilities in the area, water, gas..etc.
    Have fun but make sure you are responsible.. otherwise you make all gun owners look irresponsible.

    • Big Joe says:

      The only restriction to carrying Tannerite is if you’re carrying it in it’s already mixed form. In its unmixed form, there are no regulations or rules pertaining to its transport or purchase.

  • Jenny says:

    i think he’s using this explosive bc it is loud and he gets his rocks off with it. shock value. i also think he could find something else to use for target practice. doesn’t need to be this. unlike jet-noise, which is something we deal with here near virginia beach, this isn’t necessary.

  • Donna says:

    I think this guy is full of it and just drawing attention to himself. We have a neighbor that has a HOBBY of shooting a Canon ! He has rocked my house several times and we live in Amelia just a few miles from Chesterfield. I have complained however it doesn’t do a bit of good. Someone probably has a canon they shoot as well. It literally rattles might house like a earth quake !
    I would be happy to send you to him if you want to see and hear what a canon can do !

  • James Speed says:

    Sorry, like it or not – agree with it or not he has the RIGHT to do what pleases as long as he’s breaking no laws.. which as far as I know, he has not. Tannerite is LEGAL.. As long as he has the legal right to own firearms and discharge them .. not much you can do. Now if he sets it off after certain hours then he could be cited with disturbing the peace.

  • Acecannon says:

    This is some GREAT stuff he’s doing.
    I wish I could join him.
    It’s not hurting a thing so leave him alone.

  • Bekki Morris says:

    And this is what people in America have become, “It doesn’t matter that my neighbors (using the term very loosely since some of the booms are being heard and felt over 50 miles away) are not being able to sleep because I must blow things up at 11 p.m. at night, because it is all about me and that I get to have fun.”

  • What we heard sounded like more of a booming explosion. I don’t buy that this is the source of the booms we’ve heard. This wasn’t as powerful as what was heard.

  • Howard says:

    I shoot Tannerite occasionally at home on the farm. It is quite remote and I split the one pound charge into smaller units. It is a lot of fun, but we need to use some common sense here. Shooting Tannerite in areas where it effects others is definitely a way to ruin it for everyone. While it is a legal target, don’t forget that noise ordinances need to be adhered to and in that regard it might well be illegal. Abuse it and it quite likely will appear in zoning ordinances as well.

  • Kyle Daniel says:

    Quite time isn’t till 11:30..I like what I see buddy.

  • Manalishi says:

    I’s harmless. Unless of course your an over zealous drama queen. Or 50 miles away (patholigical liar). Amalia? Earthquake? I would also remind scars that not everyones mother has to turn tricks at the bus station to cover you child support. trashy liberal tripe shouldn’t throw rocks, get back into the closet.

  • John says:

    Guess what’s going to be illegal when the general assembly meets again. Thanks dork..

  • addie says:

    that man is using a high powered rifle in almost flat land. I have a problem with that because he his lying on the ground and has to have the rifle elevated to fire. there are regulations about using rifles when shooting you must have a thick doom to shoot at or be aiming toward the ground so that you know where the bullet is going so what he is doing is legal but not safe because rifle bullets can travel so far

  • David says:

    Pyro mentality. Start a fire, watch it burn. But, it’s his own property, expense, and risk, so the booms are just an annoyance, like smoke from a burning, but contained, fire would be.

  • Acecannon says:

    Great answer. I must also have a pyro mentality because I love to watch and listen to explosions, jet engines firing up, you name it.
    But I’m not going to hurt anyone over it so I would also be just an annoyance.
    No harm – no foul.

  • Davey28car says:

    They are what I like to call WANNA BE REDNECKS! This is the picture that opponents of guns see in there head! Idiots like this that have NO RESPECT for others around them! I have guns! I live in the country but have yet to shoot them. You know why. I dont need to!!!!

    • jamie says:

      He has every right to do what he wants with his guns and target shooting nothing wrong with that add some explosive makes it more entertaining he’s no wanna be redneck he is a country boy born and raised I grew up with him I agree with the late nite booms r uncalled for but other than that ppl need to stay and deal he’s not harming no one he is doing everything how it should be safety wise and all so why don’t all yall get off his back and let him enjoy himself with his weapons like he has the right to do as a american citizen he is smart yall ppl r judgmental and ignorant point blank

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