The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF) says Saturday night’s deadly car explosion at Hall and Turner streets in the city was a murder-suicide caused by a homemade explosive.
At a late morning news conference today in City Council Chambers, ATF Special Agent Don Robinson said 26-year-old Jacob Schmoyer manufactured the device that claimed his life along with his 2-year-old son, Jonathan, and 66-year-old friend David Hallman. Robinson said Hallman was a target who was lured into the vehicle.
The scene was described at today’s news conference as “grisly,” “particularly nasty,” “a war zone,” and “nothing short of a nightmare.”
Robinson said Schmoyer wrote four letters dated Saturday, September 29 that were sent to family members and the Allentown Police Department. One of the letters was received by the police department on Tuesday and the second was received yesterday. According to Robinson, one of the letters to APD was specific to the components and construction of the device and that Schmoyer intended to target Hallman and take his own son with him.
Authorities have not released any of the letters. According to Robinson, Schmoyer was “miserable.” He wrote that he was unhappy with his life and he “admitted to thefts, burglaries and other criminal acts.”
Robinson said, “There was a lot of stuff going on in the family. There was a lot of vitriol in the letters. There was a lot of hatred there, some directed at Mr. Hallman.”
After reconstructing the car at a lab in Maryland, the ATF believes the explosive had been placed on the center console of the vehicle. Robinson said the bomb “components and the pre-cursors are not illegal in themselves,” adding there is a lot of information out there on how to put together a homemade explosive.
According to Robinson, investigators have concluded that Schmoyer acted alone and reiterated there is no further risk to the public.
The blast scene was closed to traffic from Saturday night into this morning for processing and cleanup.
The investigation continues. Anyone in the blast area who finds anything out of the ordinary is asked not to touch it, and to call Allentown Police at 610-437-7751.