The source of last night’s house-shaking ‘mystery booms’

FORT PICKETT, Va. (WTVR) – Some neighbors in Chesterfield, Powhatan and Amelia were unnerved by house-rattling booms late into Tuesday night.

“I live in southern Chesterfield near Pocahontas State Park,” Deb A. wrote. “It is now 11:26 p.m. and we are still hearing massive booms that shake our house.Has there been any determination on what is causing them?”

“What’s going on in Powhatan?” asked Susan K. “Loud booms, my house is shaking, windows rattling, dogs barking, cats screaming!”

Officials from Fort Pickett in Blackstone solved the mystery with a Wednesday morning Facebook post.

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

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

“The leadership at Fort Pickett is aware of the concerns expressed by citizens on social media about loud noises attributed to training on the installation,” officials wrote on Facebook. “Fort Pickett was conducting normal range operations late into the evening on Tuesday might, April 8. Units were firing large caliber weapons systems from armored vehicles, and all firing was conducted in accordance with appropriate Army range operations and safety regulations.”

Fort Pickett officials said “certain atmospheric conditions can create situations where sound carries further, and that could be a factor since the range operations being conducted were not anything out of the ordinary.”

Earlier this year, a Central Virginia hunter came forward as the source of other “mystery booms” that rattled nerves and homes in Chesterfield, Dinwiddie and the Tri-Cities.

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.”

Soldiers from the Woodstock-based Company B, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team conduct room clearing exercises and urban operations training April 5, 2014, at the Fort Pickett Urban Assault Course.  (PHOTO:  Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Soldiers from the Woodstock-based Company B, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team conduct room clearing exercises and urban operations training April 5, 2014, at the Fort Pickett Urban Assault Course. (PHOTO: Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

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