Arrest Made in Mysterious Montauk Blasts

Has a booming, nocturnal riddle been solved?

    The recent arrest of a Montauk man on a charge of possessing illegal fireworks may or may not have solved the riddle of the Montauk explosions.
    Over the past several months residents of the hamlet have reported hearing single, isolated, very loud explosions, said to be so powerful that people can feel their houses shake. Police have received the reports from all over the hamlet, adding to the mystery.
    On March 29, Dan Roman, an East Hampton Town police sergeant, was on patrol near the Plaza with Officer Daniel Toia when they heard a loud boom from across Fort Pond to the west. Almost immediately, a call came in to the Montauk stationhouse, reporting the big bang as having occurred in the neighborhood of Second House Road.
    Canvassing the secluded Shepherd’s Neck area, the two spotted “a burnt orange fireworks fuse paper” in the driveway of a South Easton house. Underneath the porch, “a large black metal launching tube” was plainly visible, and was still smouldering, they reported.
    James D. Mitchell’s car was by the house. Mr. Mitchell, 43, whose mailing address is a Montauk post office box, agreed to allow the officers to search the vehicle, and they found a small shell, a one-and-a-half-inch titanium mortar, inside.
    Mr. Mitchell was placed under arrest for the class B misdemeanor, and later released from the Montauk station with a future date in court. The shell and mortar were confiscated. Police have not said whether they believe there is a connection between the man arrested and the spate of big booms.
    A Tuesday night dispute at Shagwong restaurant in Montauk ended with the arrest of a Riverhead man on April 9. According to police, a woman was at the bar when Wayne Smith, 42, whom she told police had been “staring at her all night,” grabbed her buttocks as he was leaving. Her boyfriend took immediate exception to that.
    When police arrived Mr. Smith was standing outside the bar. Asked for identification, he was unable to produce any, the report said, and “attempted to walk away.”
    The woman, who was “visibly upset,” officers noted, said she wanted to press charges, leading to Mr. Smith’s arrest on the charge of forcible touching, a misdemeanor. He was taken to headquarters, where, police said, “he continued to be uncooperative. Justice Catherine A. Cahill set bail the next morning at $200.
    Matthew D. Santich, 51, of Montauk was arrested on April 6, accused of choking a woman in his residence at about 3:30 that morning, in what police called a domestic dispute. The woman called police, who, after a brief investigation, charged Mr. Santich with strangulation in the second degree, a class D felony, along with criminal mischief and physical harassment.