WILKES-BARRE TWP. — A township man charged in connection with the discovery of explosives and bomb-making materials at a Blackman Street home and in a vehicle in June was arraigned Thursday and sent to a state prison in Monroe County to await a preliminary hearing.
Clayton Knorr Jr., 35, of 2 Company Row, faces charges of possession weapons of mass destruction, risking catastrophe and recklessly endangering another person. He was arraigned before District Judge Michael Dotzel and, unable to post $100,000 bail, was jailed at SCI Waymart to await a preliminary hearing scheduled for 1 p.m. Aug. 3 before Dotzel.
According to the criminal complaint, the special investigations unit of the Wilkes-Barre Township Police Department was conducting surveillance in the area of Company Row on June 24. Police allege Knorr was seen entering and exiting nearby residences at 628 and 630 Blackman St., as well as a two-stall garage to the rear of the residence with two other men.
Police reportedly had received information indicating a house in the area was involved in the production of illegal substances and explosive devices. The doors and garage of the residence were reportedly open, which police said was consistent with an attempt to disseminate fumes.
Luzerne County Children and Youth Services also contacted police after receiving similar information and made arrangements for officers to accompany a Children and Youth workers on a June 25 visit to the residence. Police escorted agency workers to the residence, and alleged that Knorr “acted nervously” and kept looking at a brown residence in the direction of a shed and garage in the backyard.
Police said a child’s mother asked the officials to leave so she and Knorr could speak with a lawyer, but the police report did not indicate if any children lived at the residence officers were watching.
A surveillance team kept watch on the house, and said that several occupants were seen running from and between two residences, the shed and garage areas to two parked cars. Police said the occupants were seen carrying large boxes and bags from the residences and garages to a red pickup truck and a gold Buick sedan.
Police said the Buick left the scene at a high rate of speed once it was loaded and began traveling on state Route 309. Police noticed the vehicle had an allegedly cracked windshield and conducted a traffic stop near the on-ramp to Interstate 81 southbound. When officers approached the vehicle, they allegedly observed in plain view a large amount of explosives and materials to manufacture explosives inside the vehicle.
A bomb expert was called to the scene and, once the scene was secure, police found three Ziploc bags with a total of 5 pounds of pre-mixed explosives and a handcart filled with 490 pre-cut paper rolls fixed with fuses. Two packages marked as 5 pounds of potassium perchlorate, rolling pins, measuring cups, a roll of fuse and other items for explosive manufacturing were also found in the vehicle.
Police obtained a search warrant for the residences and buildings officers saw occupants running in and out of in the 600 block of Blackman Street. The search turned up tools coated in wax consistent with that found on explosives near a crock pot and heating pots. Police also found finished explosive devices and other tools.
A bomb technician with Pennsylvania State Police determined powders at the scene were volatile, and they were destroyed in a controlled detonation on Allan’s Road.
Times Leader staff writer Steve Mocarsky contributed to this story.
Reach Travis Kellar at 570-991-6389 or on Twitter @TLNews.