Police: Convicted pipe-bomber assaulted parents with machete

Liz Evans Scolforo

A Windsor Township man attacked his parents with a machete over the weekend and threatened to cut off his father's head, according to police, who said both parents suffered minor injuries.

Shannon Silknitter spent much of the past decade in federal prison for a pipe-bomb spree during which he and others damaged mailboxes and parts of an occupied home and tried to blow up a cow.

Shannon Silknitter

Silknitter, 29, who lives with his parents at 990 Windsor Road, is in York County Prison on $250,000 bail, charged with two counts each of aggravated assault, simple assault with a deadly weapon, reckless endangerment and making terroristic threats, and one count each of escape and institutional vandalism.

Even if he posts bail, Silknitter can't be released because he's being held on a York County probation violation, according to prison records.

Charging documents filed by York Area Regional Police state officers were called to the home shortly after 10 a.m. Saturday by Barbara Silknitter, who said she and her husband were attacked.

Manhandled mom? Charging documents allege Shannon Silknitter grabbed his mother and pushed her up against a wall because she confronted him about him slamming his bedroom door and cursing and yelling.

He let her go after a few seconds, but at that point his father, Robert Silknitter, confronted him about being physical with his mother, documents state. Both Shannon Silknitter and his mother maintained he hadn't done anything to her, police said.

Both parents went downstairs, where Barbara Silknitter admitted their son grabbed her after her husband said he wanted to know the truth, documents state.

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At that point, Shannon Silknitter came downstairs and attacked his father, according to police.

"He punched him over and over again in the head and body, knocking him to the ground, and sat on his (father's) chest as he continued to punch him," documents allege.

Robert Silknitter was able to struggle free after his wife distracted their son, police said.

'He has a knife!': That's when Shannon Silknitter went back to his room, retrieved a machete and started back down the stairs, according to police.

At that point, Robert Silknitter yelled, "He has a knife!" and grabbed for his wife, and they both fled outside — but their son gave chase, documents state.

"Shannon swung the machete at his mother as they exited the back door, striking her in the back of the head," then once again turned his attention to his father, documents state.

He held the machete above his head and started to swing it at his father, who was able to grab his son's hand and stop him, at which point both men went to the ground as they struggled, documents allege.

Barbara Silknitter grabbed her son's arm as he was again swinging the machete at his father, slowing the swing, police said. At the same time, Robert Silknitter grabbed the machete, cutting his hand and fingers in the process, according to police.

Threat alleged: Robert Silknitter eventually wrested the machete from his son and threw it into a neighboring yard, which is when his son threatened to cut off his head, police allege.

Arriving officers arrested Shannon Silknitter — who was covered in his father's blood — and placed him in the back of a cruiser, where he kicked a window off its track and damaged the window frame, according to documents.

He'd been handcuffed behind his back but managed to get his still-cuffed hands in front of him while in the back of the cruiser, police said.

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When officers opened the cruiser's back door, Shannon Silknitter took off, running about 30 feet before being tackled .

Barbara Silknitter suffered a cut to the back of her head, and Robert Silknitter suffered cuts to his right hand and fingers, and both were examined at the scene by an ambulance crew, according to police.

Federal case: In August 2006, Shannon Silknitter and brothers Zachary and Stephen Beck were each sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for setting off homemade pipe bombs that twice damaged an occupied home and destroyed several mailboxes.

They set off two pipe bombs at a home on Mount Olivet Road in North Hopewell Township on Oct. 18 and 20, 2005, causing more than $27,000 in damage, police have said. The family inside escaped injury both times.The three men pleaded guilty to York County charges as well and received probationary sentences that were to begin after their release from federal prison.

One of the two house explosions blew through exterior and interior walls and into the house, according to police.

Shannon Silknitter also pleaded guilty to animal cruelty for throwing a lighted pipe bomb at a cow, which was unhurt, prosecutors said at the time.

He was released from prison June 1, 2015, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Since his release, he has twice been charged in York County with, and pleaded guilty to, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

It is unclear whether Silknitter has retained an attorney for his new charges.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.