By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia
There are new developments in the ongoing investigation into the shooting death of Keith Ratliff – the owner of FPS Industries in Carnesville.
According to Franklin County Sheriff Stevie Thomas, federal investigators descended on Carnesville and Hart County Wednesday with warrants.
“On March 25th we were notified by agents with the ATF in Atlanta that they would be executing two search warrants signed by a federal magistrates,” Thomas said. “One (warrant) in Franklin County and one Hart County. I notified the Hart County Sheriff and at 9a Wednesday morning, our officers met with the ATF agents at the Franklin County location.”
Thomas would not say whose property in Franklin County was searched or what was taken away from that property.
In Hart County, Sheriff Mike Cleveland said about 50 ATF and GBI agents converged on the farm Ratliff owned with FPS Russia host Kyle Myers.
“They were conducting an investigation regarding the explosives the pair were using on their You Tube show,” Cleveland said. “They were blowing up cars and other things in Hart County on their farm. Agents were looking for explosives or anything connected to explosives that would have put them in violation of federal law.”
Most of the 25-acre farm on Misty Mill and Caney Branch Roads, Cleveland said, is in Hart County.
He added that the pair was using an explosive that ATF authorities believe may have been used illegally.
“The way I understand it they were using Tannerite. It’s legal up to a certain amount and agents were looking for any violations of federal guidelines,” Cleveland said.
Tannerite is the brand name for an ammonium nitrate/aluminum powder-based explosive used mainly for target practice. The chemicals are shipped separately and have to be combined on site.
Cleveland said he was not sure if the search for explosives on the farm is tied to the Ratliff homicide investigation.
On January 3, the body of 32-year old Keith Ratliff was found on his property off Hayes Road and Highway 320 in Carnesville. An autopsy determined Ratliff died of a single gunshot wound to the head. According to Thomas, friends found Ratliff inside his locked office.
Ratliff worked with Kyle Myers to produce the YouTube show, FPS Russia, in which Myers, who pretends to be Russian, demonstrates various kinds of weapons and explosives.
Ratliff was also the owner of FPS Industries, a company that tested weapons and weapons parts. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, the GBI, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms are investigating his death jointly.
Since it began, authorities have remained tight-lipped on the progress of the investigation.
So far, no suspects have been named in the case and investigators will not say whether they have any person or persons of interest.