ATF agents lead search for explosives at Carnesville home
Nearly 40 law enforcement officers converged Tuesday on the property of a Franklin County man whose business partner was shot to death in January in a homicide that continues to trouble investigators.
U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents supervised the raid geared at finding explosives used by Kyle Myers, 26, because the ATF believes Myers may be violating a federal law regulating such explosives, according to ATF spokesman Richard Coes.
Federal agents, accompanied by Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents and deputies with the sheriff’s offices in Franklin and Hart counties, raided the Royston residence of Myers. Authorities also raided on Tuesday the 60-acre farm of Lamar Myers, Kyle’s father, in Lavonia.
No arrests were made, nor did Coes know if any explosives were seized.
“The idea at one of the locations was to take firearms, but they did not do that,” Coes said.
Coes said he could not comment on whether the raid stemmed from the investigation into the slaying of 32-year-old Keith Richard Ratliff, who was found dead in his business outside Carnesville on Jan. 3.
The investigation has widened into other states, according to the GBI.
Ratliff was co-owner with Myers of FPS Industries, which made guns. As productions of FPSRussia, the men posted videos on YouTube, which featured Myers using weapons the men acquired or made.
In the FPSRussia videos, Myers, who fakes a Russian accent during his demonstrations, is shown shooting guns and blowing up items.
Myers “was known to use explosives and I don’t know if it was done with malicious intent,” Coes said, adding that Myers was blowing up cars, refrigerators and other items for entertainment purposes.
A person is required to obtain a federal explosives manufacturing license if they intend to engage in the business of manufacturing explosives for sale, distribution or for their own business, Coes said.
The ATF believed that Myers was violating this law.
“The claim is that he was using explosives and getting paid for it via YouTube,” Coes said.
Information found during the search could be presented to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, according to Coes.
Myers’ YouTube videos has about 3.4 million subscribers, making it one the most viewed channels on YouTube, according to the website AmmoLand Shooting Sports News.
Myers, nor his father, could be reached for comment.
Ratliff, originally from Frankfort, Ky., had lived less than a year in Franklin County before he was fatally shot. Guns were found in the business near Ratliff’s body, but the murder weapon was not among them, authorities said. He died of a single shot to the head, the GBI said.
Ratliff lived in the building used for the business.
The GBI has declined to comment on a possible motive. Soon after the investigation began, the GBI asked for the assistance of the ATF and the FBI.
Ratliff was estranged from his wife, Amanda, who lived in Kentucky with their 2-year-old son, according to a January story in the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader. She told the newspaper her husband “was a businessman from the time he got up until the time he went to bed.”
Friends of Ratliff found his body, but the GBI has not said how long they think the victim had been dead.
The GBI would not comment on possible suspects or persons of interest in the slaying of Ratliff.
Here is a sample of one of FPSRussia’s typical videos.