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Millstone man faces gun, explosives charges

A Millstone man arrested Saturday for allegedly pointing a semi-automatic rifle at people from the window of his vehicle had what police say were explosives and possible bomb-making materials in the bed of his pickup truck.

Letcher County Sheriff Mickey Stines said Jeffrey Heath Hampton, 41, was found in possession of Tannerite and materials that could be used to make explosives in the bed of his truck when officers from five agencies stopped his vehicle about 9:30 p.m. Saturday at Millstone.

Tannerite is used to make exploding targets and is legal to purchase and possess, but it is legal to transport only in its unmixed form, according to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The materials can be purchased in kit form from firearms dealers. As of December, Hampton held a Type 01 Federal Firearms License, which includes gunsmiths and dealers of firearms other than destructive devices.

Stines said the arrest came after a complaint that Hampton was threatening people with an AR-15 rifle.

“Nine-one-one received a call that Mr. Hampton was driving around with an AR hanging out of his window saying he was going to clean up the streets,” Stines said.

Stines said Deputy Seth Whitaker and officers from Whitesburg, Neon and Jenkins police departments as well as Kentucky State Police responded to the call. Whitaker met the vehicle on the road at Millstone and attempted to turn around for a traffic stop, but before he could, he saw Hampton had stopped and was standing in the road with the rifle.

Other officers arrived immediately, and Stines said no shots were fired and there was no standoff.

“He put the gun down when he saw all the officers coming,” Stines said. “They started talking to him and thought the subject was intoxicated.”

After Hampton gave Whitaker permission to search his vehicle, he was searched and arrested. According to the citation issued at the time, a KSP trooper found a substance believed to be methamphetamine on Hampton’s person and when Whitaker searched the vehicle, Stines said, he found the explosive materials in the back. In addition, Stines said Hampton had a Smith & Wesson M&P model AR-15 rifle and about 200 rounds of ammunition, and a Glock Model 42 .380 pistol.

Stines said among the items in Hampton’s truck were two jugs of Tannerite already mixed into an explosive, 10 to 20 pounds of fertilizer, a container of aluminum powder which can be used to make Tannerite, diesel fuel, butane cells, a battery and residential wiring.

Tannerite is classified as a “binary explosive” made from ammonium nitrate and/or ammonium perchlorate and aluminum powder. It is often used by firearms enthusiasts to make exploding targets, and is legal to possess and transport as long as its two components have not been mixed together. However, once the ingredients are mixed, it is illegal to transport, according to guidance on the web site of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Police say there were two large jugs of the mixed product in the truck bed.

Stines said the components were also there to make ANFO, a mixture of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and diesel fuel used as a commercial blasting agent in mining.

Like Tannerite, ANFO is a binary explosive, and merely having the components is not illegal as long as they are not mixed together.

Stines said there is no indication that Hampton is involved in any extremist group, but police have been interested in him because of social media posts that had been brought to their attention. Hampton has posted many rambling and sometimes threatening comments about “The End Times” and exhorting readers and even President Donald Trump to call God “by his true name Jehovah.”

Police this weekend charged him with possession of a destructive device or booby trap device, public intoxication, first-degree wanton endangerment, and first-degree possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine).

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