Owner of Grandview business destroyed by explosion in January in - KCTV5

Owner of Grandview business destroyed by explosion in January indicted for illegal explosives

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GRANDVIEW, MO (KCTV) -

Unsealed federal court records show two men are facing charges for illegally manufacturing and dealing explosives.

One of the men owned JW’s Lawn and Garden Equipment, which was destroyed in an explosion in January of this year.

ATF investigators said the men had thousands of illegal explosives, including m-80s and m-100s.

They are accused of using the lawn and garden equipment business as a place to make illegal explosive devices.

The large explosion at JW’s Lawn and Garden Equipment on January 3 could be heard for miles. 

"It sounded like a bomb,” said Michael McGautha whose window shattered by the explosion. “It sounded like a big explosion. The ground shook two, three or four times. Several explosions over there."

The explosions shattered windows at nearby apartments. 

Fighting the flames was a dangerous task for firefighters, including the Grandview Fire Chief who recorded video of the blasts.

“Didn't injure me,” said Chief Ron Graham. “It kind of blew me back into these trees right here."

The city of Grandview shared drone video of the damage after the fire was put out.

According to court records, the business owner, James Witt, and co-defendant, Thomas McKeehan from Belton, manufactured explosive devices by buying bulk supplies of chemicals and then combining them to produce the illegal explosive devices at JW’s Lawn and Garden Equipment.

On the night of the explosions and fire, investigators say Witt and McKeehan traveled to a storage unit and removed even more fireworks they had stored away. They then tried to sell them to a buyer in Wisconsin for $32,000.

The federal grand jury indicted the men on several counts including engaging in the business of dealing in explosive materials.

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