Explosion details emerge
EBENSBURG – The man killed in Tuesday’s explosion at a Clearfield Township home specifically targeted the homeowner and had previously attempted to kill himself using explosives, officials said Wednesday.
Bradley Gene Kollar, 40, of Hastings was killed after detonating an explosive device outside of a home at 882 Kepshire Road, Patton, shortly before 9 a.m. Tuesday.
Kollar specifically targeted the two-story home of William M. Shaner in what police are calling an attempted criminal homicide.
“During the investigation, we believe a phone call may have been made from the suspect to the homeowner,” said Trooper John Matchik, spokesman for the Ebensburg barracks.
Police did not say what the phone call entailed. But shortly after placing the call, Kollar detonated an unknown explosive device from his vehicle outside of Shaner’s home.
“The remnants of a vehicle were recovered near the front of the house, and from a preliminary sense, the damage appeared to originate at that vehicle,” Matchik said.
Shaner and his son, a teenage male, were inside the home at the time of the attack. Both were hospitalized, and Shaner remains in critical condition.
Police did not release information concerning the size or type of explosive material used in the attack.
“At this time, we are classifying this particular incident as a criminal attempted homicide,” Matchik said.
Kollar was scheduled for sentencing Tuesday in Cambria County court after pleading guilty to vehicle theft and illegally possessing liquid ammonia for nonindustrial or agricultural use. Kollar faced a likely prison sentence, Cambria County District Attorney Kelly Callihan said.
Those charges stemmed from a state police raid last March of 47 acres owned by the Kollar family.
The dead man’s father, John Andrew 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.
Kollar was also 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.
“We did have concerns with Mr. Kollar’s mental state after these charges were filed,” Callihan said. “Sometime around June of last year, my office petitioned the court to revoke Mr. Kollar’s bond because we had concerns that he was suicidal and that he had access to explosives.”
John Andrew Kollar, posted the $20,000 cash bond to have his son released from prison, Callihan said.
Prosecutors learned of Kollar’s unstable mental state after he was heard discussing a suicide attempt during a recorded phone conversation with an unidentified Cambria County Prison inmate in June 2012.
The Associated Press said the call was with an ex-girlfriend. Kollar reportedly 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 the bomb and didn’t threaten to use it on anyone else.
The failed bomb was composed of 1,600 pounds of fuel, Callihan said. The bomb was similar to the one used to blow up the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995.
Cambria County Judge Norman A. Krumenacker III denied the bail revocation petition and ordered Kollar undergo a mental health assessment, Callihan said.
On Tuesday, Cambria County Coroner Dennis Kwiatkowski ruled Kollar’s death a suicide.
Police did not release a motive for the attack.
“The only thing we can specifically state are that rumors and speculation continue to persist,” Matchik said. “But at this time, we cannot confirm any specific motive or possible retaliation.”
“That would all be pure speculation.”
Shaner is serving a probation sentence in Blair County after pleading guilty to theft charges.
Callihan did not comment if Shaner was a confidential information who testified against Kollar.
“Mr. Shaner was never named formally in any documents” concerning Kollar’s charges, Callihan said.
Callihan is related to Kollar’s defense lawyer, Johnstown attorney Art McQuillan.
Callihan said Chief Deputy Scott Lilly and Heath Long, first assistant district attorney, handled the litigation petitioning the judge to revoke Kollar’s bond.
The district attorney said she may have to recuse herself from the case if additional information warrants it.
“That is certainly a possibility,” Callihan said.
Shaner was flown from Altoona Regional to Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh and remains in critical condition. The male teenager was expected to be released from Altoona Regional Wednesday, Matchik said.
Investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the state police Hazardous Device and Explosives Section and other law enforcement personal continued to comb through the debris Wednesday.
Mirror Staff Writer Zach Geiger is at 946-7535. The Associated Press contributed to this report.