Tips sought from public after car explosion that left 3 dead

The Associated Press
Federal and local authorities investigate along North Hall Street in Allentown, Pa., Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018, after a fiery car explosion rocked the neighborhood on Saturday night. Police confirmed several fatalities. (Harry Fisher/The Morning Call via AP)

ALLENTOWN – Autopsies are planned Monday on the bodies of three people found dead after a car explosion on a downtown street in what authorities called a “criminal incident” being probed by federal, state and local authorities.

Three males were found dead after the 9:30 p.m. Saturday blast in Allentown, said Lehigh County Coroner Scott Grim, who added that he would probably be able to release the names after their identities are confirmed and their families notified.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is leading the investigation along with the FBI, state police, and city and county authorities. Officials said the blast was believed to have been an isolated incident with no ongoing threat to the public.

“We know there’s been a criminal incident,” District Attorney James Martin told reporters at a news conference Sunday. “We have a high degree of confidence that the perpetrator was probably killed in the incident.”

Authorities released no information about the possible cause of the blast, including whether it was a bomb, but Martin said “loads of us in law enforcement” are confident “this was A. an isolated incident and B. there’s no continuing threat.”

Authorities are seeking the public’s help and asked anyone with information to call the ATF.

More:3 dead in Allentown car blast

Resident Carlos Perodin told The Morning Call of Allentown that he was watching a movie with his wife when he heard a thunderous explosion and went to the scene.

“The fire was crazy,” he said. “The car was pretty much split in half.”

Stephanie Connelly, who saw the aftermath of the explosion, told The Morning Call that she saw body parts strewn across the street.

A bus station was turned into a makeshift command center with armored vehicles, dozens of police cruisers, mobile command units and even portable bathrooms, the paper reported. Several portable tents were also erected for evidence processing.

Residents were asked to avoid the area, and people who live nearby were asked to shelter in place. A shelter was set up at an elementary school. Officials asked anyone who witnessed the blast or had information about it to contact investigators.