Little tracking of Wisconsin fireworks purchasing

CREATED Apr 24, 2013

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TOWN OF RAYMOND - It has been widely reported that one of the Boston attack suspects bought fireworks weeks before the marathon. The company that sold those fireworks has a locations here in Wisconsin.

Manager Ken Michel showed TODAY'S TMJ4 exactly what the accused Boston bomber bought at a Phantom Fireworks location in New Hampshire.

"A lot of people think that whole shell explodes," Michel said. "Actually, very little of that is explosive material."

Ken says consumer-grade fireworks alone would not make much of a bomb.

"It would be very difficult," he explained. "Extremely difficult, almost impossible."

Ken manages the Phantom Fireworks store just off I-94 in rural Racine County. The Town of Raymond is one of the few Southeast Wisconsin communities that allows fireworks sales.

Phantom keeps a customer database nationwide and that is how they were able to link the terror suspect to his fireworks purchase.

"It allows us to come back and if there would be a problem ever, see that they did purchase and find their information quickly and easily," Michel said.

Every customer is tracked by the company and the Town of Raymond.

"What we do is take your drivers license, put it on the scanner here," Michel demonstrated.

Personal information is stored and customers are charged $4 for a local permit.

The town keeps a record of who bought fireworks and when, but there is no state or national database.

Homeland security expert Brian Dorow, an instructor at Waukesha County Technical College, says fireworks are rarely used in homemade explosives.

"We're not seeing that," Dorow said. "From all the case studies I've reviewed and the training that I've done, we've not see that connection."

The Town of Raymond clerk declined to speak on camera about the municipality's tracking methods.