EBENSBURG – A man who blew up himself with a device in his truck that leveled an acquaintance’s rural Western Pennsylvania home tried to commit suicide last summer with a 1,600-pound fuel bomb similar to one used to blow up the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
Cambria County District Attorney Kelly Callihan said her office asked a judge to revoke the bond of Bradley Kollar, 40, last June after learning of the suicide attempt, which he discussed with his ex-girlfriend in a call that was recorded because she was jailed. But Kollar’s attorney objected and the judge agreed to let him remain free on bond while illegal possession of chemicals and stolen vehicle charges against him wound their way through the courts, Callihan said.
Kollar told the woman he was stressed about those legal troubles and lighted the bomb’s fuse three times, only to have it fail.
“Three times. When I talk about it, it makes my hair stand up,” Kollar said. A transcript of the bomb hearing shows the judge refused to revoke Kollar’s bond because he was never charged with making it and didn’t threaten to use it on anyone else.
Kollar, of Hastings, was set to be sentenced Tuesday on those charges when he instead drove to the Clearfield Township residence where the explosion occurred, injuring the homeowner, William Shaner, 44, and one of his teenage sons, state police Trooper John Matchik said.
State police and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives continued to comb the rubble Wednesday for clues.
“At this time, we cannot confirm any specific motive or possible retaliation,” Matchik said, though he and Callihan acknowledged that revenge is one possibility. He said the blast is being treated as an “attempted criminal homicide.”
Matchik said that Shaner was an acquaintance of Kollar’s and that police have learned Kollar phoned Shaner moments before the blast. Matchik declined to detail the call.
The blast leveled Shaner’s two-story home minutes before 9 a.m., the time Kollar was scheduled to be sentenced on charges of vehicle theft and illegally possessing liquid ammonia for nonindustrial or agricultural use. Kollar faced a likely prison sentence, the DA said.
Those charges grew out of a state police raid last March of 47 acres owned by the Kollar family. The dead man’s father, John Kollar, 64, was charged with possessing stolen heavy equipment – including a front-end loader – and is awaiting trial.
Callihan said some of the charges against Bradley Kollar had to be dropped or dismissed because it wasn’t clear why he had some of the chemicals, many of which have legitimate uses, especially in rural settings. Still, Callihan said, some of the chemicals could be used to make explosives or methamphetamine.
Matchik said that investigators don’t yet know what chemicals were used in Tuesday’s explosion and he couldn’t explain why county 911 dispatchers initially said the explosion was sparked by a meth lab.
Kollar also was suspected of making his own fireworks for sale on the black market, Callihan said. Kollar had lost part of his arm, possibly in 2009, from some kind of chemical accident or explosion gone awry, investigators said.
Bradley and John Kollar’s attorneys declined to comment.
Shaner remained in critical condition Wednesday. Shaner’s son might be released from a hospital later Wednesday, Matchik said.