New Kensington man injures self in pipe bomb explosion
A New Kensington man who police said set off an explosive near his home on Seventh Street on Thursday morning had threatened to burn down abandoned buildings on the street, according to neighbors.
Police say Gregory Domanski, 50, placed the device next to a natural gas meter at an abandoned home within feet of his own house at 858 Seventh St.
The gas at the abandoned house at 860 Seventh St. had recently been turned off because the home is scheduled for demolition by the city, said Detective Lt. Jim Klein.
Although Domanski didn't give police a reason for setting off the explosive, he apparently was upset with the dilapidated state of the vacant home, Klein said. The front porch had collapsed and numerous windows were broken.
“We're not sure if it was an accident or intentional,” New Kensington police Chief Tom Klawinski said of the explosion, which occurred about 10:15 a.m.
Klein said the explosive was either a pipe bomb or a homemade mortar. Visible near the gas meter was a 3-inch plastic pipe mounted vertically on top of a square piece of wood.
The Allegheny County Bomb Squad searched the home Thursday afternoon and found no explosives or similar devices.
Domanski suffered a severe hand injury and head lacerations and was taken by ambulance to Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh. His condition was not disclosed.
Police had not been called to the home before, Klawinski said.
Neighbors said Domanski has a history of strange behavior. Court documents show he has been arrested for drunken driving, public intoxication, simple assault and disorderly conduct.
Next-door neighbor Kathie Thorhauer said she wrote Domanski's behavior off as more of an annoyance than a danger — until Thursday's incident.
“I'm scared. It's finally hitting me,” she said. “What if that line would have exploded? Would I have had enough time to get out?”
She said the blast was so powerful that it shook her house.
“All of the pictures fell off the wall,” Thorhauer said. Two windows closest to the blast shattered, she said.
Holly Thorn, 23, a neighbor who said she's known Domanski and his daughter for most of her life, said she ran into Domanski's home after she heard the explosion and Domanski yelling for help.
She said she could do little when she saw his mangled hand inside a plastic bag he was using to cover the injury.
Thorn said Domanski has had problems lately.
“He used to be a nice guy over the years, but I think things that have happened to him over the years has taken a toll,” she said. “It's mentally and physically gotten to him.”
Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.