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Local News

March 20, 2013

Deadly blast is probed

Police: Threat call came to home just before explosion

EBENSBURG — Investigators said they believe a threatening phone call was made to a Kepshire Road residence just before the caller drove a truck carrying an explosive device into the Clearfield Township home, reducing it to scraps and sending William Shaner and his teenage son to the hospital.

Details surrounding the mental state of the suspect are surfacing, including his suicidal thoughts and a previous suicide attempt with a 1,600-pound ammonium bomb.

State police and federal investigators are still ruminating on all the angles in Tuesday’s “significant” Patton explosion and stressed that it may be some time before investigators can provide concrete details.

What is known is that 40-year-old Bradley Kollar of Hastings, who was scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday on charges of operating a chop shop and meth lab from his family residence, missed his 9 a.m. Cambria County court appearance.

Instead, he was approaching the Shaner family home, and a blast was detonated just minutes before his sentencing.

“We believe at this time that the suspect had specifically targeted the Shaner family, for a specific reason which is unknown to us at this time,” said John Matchik, public informations officer for the Pennsylvania State Police. “We have conducted interviews with the surviving victims. Specifically, we talked to Mr. Shaner in a preliminary capacity, but we still plan to conduct follow-up interviews.”

Matchik refused to detail what was stated in the call allegedly made to the Shaner residence moments before the detonation, only that they are reviewing it as a “possible perceived threat.” Authorities acknowledged that Shaner and Kollar were acquaintances.

There was only one person killed in the blast – the driver, Kollar.

Both William Shaner, 44, and his son are expected to recover. Shaner remains in intensive care at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, but his son was expected to be released from an Altoona hospital Wednesday afternoon.

Cambria County District Attorney Kelly Callihan said she filed a petition to revoke Kollar’s $200,000 bond in June, after a recorded phone conversation Kollar had with a Cambria County Prison inmate was uncovered. The suspect’s father, 64-year-old John Kollar, had already posted 10 percent in cash to free him.

On the recorded call, Kollar talked about the stress of his pending charges, which he said led him to light the fuse multiple times on a 1,600-pound ammonium bomb – failing each time.

“We did have concerns with Mr. Kollar’s mental state after these charges were filed,” Callihan said. “When the information came to us through the jail that he had made a bomb and was contemplating suicide – actually took actions to blow himself up but it didn’t detonate the right way – we felt it important to take that into court and address it, and we played (the recorded conversation).”

Kollar’s attorney, Art McQuillan, objected to the revocation.

According to The Associated Press, a transcript of the suicide bomb hearing shows Judge Norman Krumenacker chose not to revoke Kollar’s bond because he was not charged with the construction of the device and he never threatened to harm others with it. Callihan said Kollar was made to submit to a mental evaluation.

She also acknowledged the connection between herself and Kollar’s attorney, McQuillan – that they are siblings. The DA said her office may have to explore her recusal from future prosecutions in this case.

“We have a process in place in our office, approved by the Attorney General’s Office, that I never become involved in or touch any case that my brother is involved in. That’s a clear conflict of interest, because we are brother and sister,” she said. “(Recusal) is certainly a possibility if this investigation would go a different way or lead to other individuals being involved in any way.”

Authorities discovered heavy equipment and chemicals in a raid on the Kollar family property, but some of the meth-making charges Kollar faced were either dropped or dismissed as the intended use of the found chemicals was unclear.

“A lot of the materials that were there during the raid – they tended to lean toward the possibility of a meth lab being there,” she said. “But we could never confirm that it was an active lab.

“(The chemicals) could have been used in the drug trade but, also, we felt he was making his own fireworks and possibly selling them in an underground market,” she said.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Agent Lou Weiers also attended Wednesday’s press conference regarding the Kepshire blast.

Weiers said there are countless options for someone like the suspect to obtain destructive materials. Investigators will be relying on the ATF’s Washington, D.C., crime lab to give a “complete package” of the bomb, its make and trigger.

“In any science, you have a theory. The science will, hopefully, prove the theory,” he said. “Once we get the stuff down to the lab, I would assume that they’ll be able to turn (it) around. They’re very capable,” he said.

“It’s what they do.”

Associated Press reporter Joe Mandak contributed to this report.

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