Connellsville Township man sentenced for having dynamite in closet
A Fayette County man told a judge on Monday that it slipped his mind that he had stashed two sticks of dynamite in a bedroom closet, resulting in a police evacuation of a Connellsville Township neighborhood when his then-estranged wife found the explosives.
“I forgot about them,” said Brian Allen Walters, 47, of Douglas Street, Uniontown, before his sentencing by President Judge John F. Wagner Jr. “My (estranged) wife found them when she was packing up my clothes.”
As part of a plea bargain, Wagner sentenced Walters to 23 months of intermediate punishment on a charge of possession of weapons of mass destruction. Walters was ordered to serve 12 months of the sentence on house arrest with electronic monitoring.
In January, Walters entered guilty pleas to the weapons charge and risking a catastrophe, theft, reckless endangerment and possession of an incendiary or explosive device.
State police at Uniontown said the two sticks of dynamite and a 1,000-foot spool of shot cord were found by Walters' then-estranged wife, Patti Lynn Walters, on Jan. 6 in the home the two previously shared on River Avenue in Connellsville Township.
Nearby homes were evacuated for at least five hours while the Allegheny County bomb squad removed the dynamite and shot cord, police said.
Patti Walters told police she had been separated from Brian Walters for two months when she began to clean her closets to remove his belongings, according to a police report. She found the two sticks of dynamite wrapped in a red towel in a bedroom closet.
Brian Walters told police he was an underground mine foreman for Hanson Aggregates in Connellsville Township when “he was inspecting an area post blast and found two misfires,” according to court documents. Instead of contacting his superiors, police said in a report, Walters placed the dynamite in his company truck, finished his duties for the day and drove home.
“He said when he got home, he realized he had brought the dynamite home,” police said in the report. “He said he recalled it was a Friday and he did not want to drive around with dynamite in his truck all weekend, so he placed it in a red rag and placed them in his bedroom closet.”
Walters told police “he totally forgot about the dynamite” until a trooper showed up at his Uniontown residence a few hours after his estranged wife found the explosive sticks.
According to the police report, Walters told troopers the 1,000 feet of shot cord was “expended” and he previously had taken it home to use in a weed-cutting tool.
“He said it's very common for people to use the used-up cord for that,” police said in the report.
A Hanson employee told police Walters oversaw blasting activities at the Rich Hill Quarry until he was let go on July 30, 2012. The records do not give a reason for his dismissal, but the employee said that had the company known Walters took the dynamite home, he likely would have been dismissed and the ATF would have been contacted.
No one from the company returned a call seeking comment on Monday.
Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or firstname.lastname@example.org.