Neighbors: Bomber quiet but troubled
HASTINGS – An explosion that killed one man, injured two others and leveled a two-story home in Clearfield Township on Tuesday morning sent reverberations through the dead man’s hometown.
Police said Bradley Gene Kollar, 40, of Hastings was killed after he detonated an unknown explosive device shortly before 9 a.m. Tuesday outside the home of William M. Shaner.
Kollar’s actions came as a surprise to area residents.
Shaner, 44, was critically injured in the blast, suffering a fractured skull and multiple other injuries in the attack. He is recovering after surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and reportedly was out of bed on Friday.
His teenage son was injured but has been released from the hospital.
Cambria County Coroner Dennis Kwiatkowski ruled Kollar’s death a suicide. Prosecutors said he specifically targeted the Shaner residence in what is being called an attempted criminal homicide.
Hastings residents recalled Kollar as a quiet, but troubled, individual.
“He was always helpful,” said Skip Kozub, a Hastings resident who lives down the street from Kollar’s former apartment. “I never could say anything bad about him.”
Kollar was a skilled handyman as a welder, who always volunteered to help his neighbors with various tasks, Kozub said.
Last summer Kollar helped him remove a tree stump on his property, Kozub said.
Everyone has their own personal troubles, Kozub said. He does not know what drove Kollar to act in the way he did Tuesday or why he was driven to such desperation.
He only knew the man as a helpful, if quiet, neighbor. “He always treated me fair and square,” Kozub said. “Good man.”
Patrons in a small cafe off of Beaver Street discussed the situation in passing as they ate their meals Thursday afternoon.
“Too much excitement,” one man said, shaking his head.
“He wasn’t a monster,” a woman added.
Patton resident Rosemarie Fox was one of the first people on scene following the explosion that morning.
Despite losing her home and all of the family’s possessions, Fox said Shaner’s wife, Linda Shaner, is thankful to still have her sons and husband – and harbors no ill will toward the dead man’s family.
“Her heart is sick for Brad’s family,” Fox said. “She cried very hard. She is hurting for his family.”
Fox said it is not in Linda Shaner’s character to be angry.
Instead, Linda Shaner is humbled by the outpouring of support from neighbors and the surrounding community and said she is blessed to have her family intact, Fox said.
Tuesday’s events were tragic and horrible, Fox said.
“Obviously, Brad had some demons, or he had unhealthy thoughts,” Fox said “But I can’t say why he did what he did. But somebody was watching over that family.”
Linda Shaner left her husband’s bedside to comb through the debris of their family home Friday, Fox said.
Linda Shaner could not be reached for comment.
Police vehicles and satellite news vans flooded the small borough when word of Kollar’s involvement broke, said Bryan Haluska, a Hastings resident.
Haluska said Kollar was “forgettable” – he didn’t stand out and was just another face in the crowd.
“From what I knew of him, he really
wasn’t a bad guy,” Haluska said.
Kollar was known as the guy who set off his own fireworks on July 4 and could occasionally be seen getting a slice of pizza in the borough, Haluska said.
Although he kept to himself, many knew of Kollar’s legal troubles and apparent mental instability, Haluska said.
“I want to say I’m surprised…,” Haluska said of Kollar’s suicide.
Haluska said he was more shocked to learn Kollar had targeted a certain individual in his suicide than he was to learn Kollar had harmed himself.
Kollar had his own problems and personal demons but had never acted violently in the past to the best of his knowledge, Haluska said.
“We never really were involved with Brad,” Hastings Borough Police Chief Ronald Sharkey said. “He actually always got along with us.”
Apart from being arrested years ago in a domestic dispute, Kollar generally stayed out of trouble, Sharkey said.
But some knew of Kollar’s legal trouble and saw him potentially harming himself, Sharkey said. For others, news of his death came as a surprise.
“I was really shocked about it, that he would harm another individual,” Sharkey said.
Following the Tuesday morning bombing, rumors of Kollar’s involvement in the attack began to circulate on Facebook and by word of mouth, Haluska said.
After he got out of work and first saw the images of the demolished house, Haluska said he was shocked to learn of the bombing – and the identity of the dead man found in the wreckage.
“Surreal,” he said. “He wasn’t this horrible guy … there’s a lot worse people in this area than Brad Kollar.”
Kollar had previously attempted to take his own life using explosives, prosecutors said.
He was a fireworks enthusiast who used to make his own pyrotechnics – and had lost an arm in a previous explosion gone awry, police said.
Cambria County District Attorney Kelly Callihan said her office was unsuccessful in revoking Kollar’s bond in June of last year after learning of his suicide attempt and access to explosives.
In a recorded phone conversation between Kollar and an ex-girlfriend locked up in the Cambria County Prison, Kollar admitted to lighting the fuse on a homemade bomb multiple times.
The 1,600 pounds of the fuel in the device failed to detonate.
Prosecutors expected Kollar to serve jail time after pleading guilty to vehicle theft and illegally possessing liquid ammonia.
Last March, police recovered various chemicals, including liquid ammonia, during a raid of 47 acres owned by the Kollar family.
Additional drug charges against Kollar were dropped because prosecutors could not prove the chemicals were used in the preparation of methamphetamine, police said.
Kollar’s father, John Andrew Kollar, 64, was charged with possessing stolen heavy equipment – including a front-end loader — and is awaiting trial.
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 are awaiting the results of a laboratory analysis of the explosives used in Tuesday’s blast.
Mirror Staff Writer Zach Geiger is at 946-7535.