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Man Allegedly Blows Up House, Killing Himself, On Daughter’s Wedding Day
Police believe the unidentified victim disconnected the home's gas line and ignited it in a suicide.
A Pennsylvania man is dead after allegedly blowing up his house on his daughter's wedding day.
Police believe the man, who hasn’t been identified, intentionally set off the explosion in order to kill himself, according to the Pittsburgh Gazette. His body was found amongst the debris later that evening.
“It’s my understanding that his family had a wedding today, and that most of the family was out of the house, but we have witnesses that indicate they saw him near the house just before the explosion,” Edgewood Borough Police Chief Robert Payne told the Gazette.
Payne didn’t respond to Oxygen.com’s request for comment.
Authorities arrived at the burning home around 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, but were unable to salvage it; the house was reduced to nothing but a pile of smoking rubble in a matter of minutes. A bomb squad later forced the evacuation of surrounding homes to scour the area for any other potential explosives. But it was later determined the man had likely disconnected his home’s gas line, which triggered the violent blast.
"The whole house was on fire," witness Rochelle Levine told local television station WTAE-TV. "The whole house was one big flame. It just exploded within a couple minutes. Above all the roofs."
"It was a lot of smoke, a lot of flames," witness Johanna Maend also told the ABC affiliate. "People were crying. People were upset. We're unsure about what happened to this man, so it's a scary situation."
Neighbors, who said the blast shook the entire neighborhood, told authorities they saw the man outside his home not long before his house was devoured by flames.
“We came outside to see what was going on, and the house was in flames — still standing — but in flames,” neighbor Donna Antolovich told the Gazette. “Three to five minutes before the house blew up, the owner was standing in front of it. After that, nobody could find him.”
Residents were rattled by the suspected explosive suicide, and left many wondering why the man took his life on what was supposed to be a joyous day for his family. Many have been using a sidewalk adjacent to the charred wreckage as a makeshift memorial to lay flowers.
“I’ve known them my whole life,” Nicole Antolovich said. “Their daughter was getting married today and they were supposed to be at a wedding.”
Authorities found what appeared to be the homeowner’s mobile phone sitting on the windshield of his vehicle.
[It’s] kind of odd, and so that troubles us,” Payne, the Edgewood police chief, explained.
Payne acknowledged officers had been called to the residence in the past, but wouldn’t elaborate on the nature of those incidents.
“[There’s] no reason for this particular house to go up,” he said. “There’s no gas issues here. We’ve been here before, we know who this gentleman is, and I’ll leave it at that.”
Officials said no one was hurt in the explosion. The Pittsburgh Gazette also reported that a neighboring home was damaged in the inferno but was unoccupied at the time.