Shooting range owner cuts ties to Blackwater
Union Tribune (2008-04-29) Anne Krueger
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Subcontractor conducted training
By Anne Krueger
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
April 29, 2008
SAN DIEGO – The owner of a shooting range who trained military personnel for Blackwater Worldwide said yesterday he will no longer work with the North Carolina-based government contractor because of its notoriety.
“I'm tired of being dragged into this thing,” said Marc Halcon, owner of American Shooting Center in Kearny Mesa.
Halcon, who has run American Shooting Center for 11 years, said he has been a subcontractor for Blackwater since 2002. He sent a fax yesterday notifying the company that the agreement will end May 31.
Blackwater plans to open an indoor training center for Navy personnel this summer in a 61,600-square-foot warehouse in Otay Mesa. The company scuttled plans to build a training center in the East County community of Potrero after noise tests showed gunfire at the site exceeded county standards.
Brian Bonfiglio, a Blackwater vice president, said Halcon's decision will not affect the company's plans.
“With Blackwater's new facility in Otay Mesa, there is no longer a reason for our relationship with Mr. Halcon to continue,” Bonfiglio said.
Blackwater has drawn intense protests from people who object to the company providing security guards for officials in Iraq. The company has come under close government scrutiny, particularly since four Blackwater employees were killed by Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah in March 2004, and again last September, when Blackwater guards shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad.
After Blackwater's plans for the Otay Mesa warehouse were reported last week, San Diego politicians said they would challenge the center and investigate whether the project received the proper permits.
The permit for the Blackwater project was obtained by Raven Development Group. The name on design plans reviewed by the city was Southwest Law Enforcement. Both companies are affiliated with Blackwater. Bonfiglio said Blackwater never hid the relationship.
City officials said Blackwater's training facility is allowed under a permit for use as a vocational trade school.
Halcon said that since his company partnered with Blackwater, his instructors have conducted training for military personnel with no assistance from Blackwater employees. He declined to say how much the contract was worth or how many students he trained, but Halcon said he will take a loss by ending it.
Halcon said Blackwater officials didn't tell him about their plans, and he considers them business competitors. Halcon is seeking county approval for a military training center he wants to build on 160 acres in Japatul Valley, near Alpine.
Anne Krueger: (619) 593-4962; firstname.lastname@example.org