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Las Vegas shooter had 50 pounds of Tannerite in car: Why that's concerning

Stephen Paddock, responsible for the largest mass shooting in American history was also found with 50 pounds of tannerite in his vehicle outside the Mandalay Bay Hotel. PHOTO: MGN

NASHVILLE, Tenn.--Las Vegas Police Department Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said on Wednesday night the man responsible for the largest mass-shooting in America's history was also heavily armed with explosive chemicals.

Sheriff Lombardo stated Stephen Paddock, responsible for the deaths of 58 people and over 480 injured during Sunday night's Las Vegas shooting, also had large amounts of ammonium nitrate and tannerite in his vehicle outside the Mandalay Bay Hotel.

During the most-recent update, Sheriff Lombardo said police found 10 one pound containers of tannerite, two 20 pound containers of tannerite, and 1,600 rounds of ammunition along with an unknown quantity of ammonium nitrate inside Paddock's vehicle.

If any of this sounds familiar, that's because both chemical substances are widely used.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), millions of tons of ammonium nitrate is used in the United States each year. While stable at an "ambient temperature and pressure," according to the EPA, it can be used as an accelerant for combustion.

In 2013, ammonium nitrate storage was responsible for the explosion in West, Texas, which killed 15 people, including first responders. Over 250 people were injured in the explosion, and it caused serious damage to structures miles from the explosion.

Ammonium nitrate is commonly used in fertilizers and also found in cold packs.

That ammonium nitrate found by police was possibly used to construct the 50 pounds of tannerite in Paddock's vehicle. Tannerite consists of ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder. Once tannerite is formed, ignition - such as a bullet- is needed to create an explosion.

Tannerite is often used to form homemade exploding targets and according to the EPA, it is currently approved for sale in the United States. However, one case study found it can also cause severe injury to people.

According to the 2016 journal article, tannerite can "be used to form devices capable of inflicting major blast injury." In the patient studied, the person suffered a rupture of the tympanic membrane (inner ear), injury to the eye wall, and severe burns.

As Sheriff Lombardo noted during his press conference, Paddock spent years planning his attack, purchasing his arsenal which we now know included explosive materials. Police have said Paddock's vehicle was in the area of the hotel, and it's likely the fast response by a security guard and Las Vegas police prevented even greater destruction given what was found inside his car.

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