In their own words: Fam­ily, friends re­call blast

One year ago, Al­len­town man killed him­self, tod­dler son, neigh­bor in ex­plo­sion

The Morning Call - - FRONT PAGE - By Manuel Gamiz Jr.

It’s been a year since a car ex­plo­sion det­o­nated by Ja­cob Sch­moyer, 26, de­stroyed two fam­i­lies and shook Cen­ter City Al­len­town. The blast ended the lives of Sch­moyer, his 2-year-old son, JJ, and David H. Hall­man, of Al­len­town.

Here’s how the events of Sept. 29, 2018, af­fected the lives of their fam­ily mem­bers and friends, in their own words:

David E. Hall­man, son of vic­tim David H. Hall­man Can you de­scribe your fa­ther?

He was a free-spir­ited per­son who went around and loved en­joy­ing his mu­sic and his dog. He loved the nightlife on the week­ends, al­ways out par­ty­ing and danc­ing ev­ery Satur­day as far as I can re­mem­ber. He was a ma­chin­ist at Sarco [in Eas­ton] for a long time and then tran­si­tioned to Vic­taulic [in Forks Town­ship] and had a lot of other jobs. He fi­nally started to re­tire at the be­gin­ning of last year.

Can you tell us about his dog, Skippy?

She was 14 and 4 months. Any­where he went, she went. That dog was his life, that was his ev­ery­thing. I al­ways joked that dog gets bet­ter treat­ment than I do. He had pho­tos of Skippy in his whole house.

When was the last time you heard from your dad?

Un­for­tu­nately, he called me that Satur­day. I never an­swered the phone. I sort of re­gret that, usu­ally when he calls you, he talks your ear off for a half-hour or so.

I al­ways think, man, if I would have an­swered the phone. Was my dad go­ing to try to come over for din­ner that night? He al­ways called and said, “Hey, got any­thing for din­ner?” I sort of kick

my­self. I should have just an­swered the phone, maybe he wanted to come over for din­ner, maybe.

When did you hear about the ex­plo­sion?

I didn’t know un­til Sun­day. I seen some­thing about the ex­plo­sion in the news and I said, “God, that’s weird.” I could see my neigh­bor­hood, be­cause I grew up in that neigh­bor­hood with him. I kept try­ing to call him and I couldn’t get ahold of him. Then I called his buddy, I said, “Have you seen my dad?” and he said he hasn’t, so I shot down to Al­len­town, went to the 7-11 there and checked in with the po­lice chief there. He couldn’t tell me be­cause they weren’t in charge, so they couldn’t do noth­ing. I didn’t get any in­for­ma­tion out of them, and I started to call around shel­ters, went to a cou­ple of schools where they said they had moved peo­ple. Called the hos­pi­tals, I called ev­ery­body I can think of that night. And just never got any an­swers.

So then I left to work the next day and a guy at my work, my work part­ner told me, “I hate to say it, but did you try to call the morgue?” so I called them and the guy there said, “Hold on, don’t hang up.” I knew right then and there.

So I did all the hunt­ing, no one no­ti­fied me. I had to do ev­ery­thing my­self, which is sort of un­for­tu­nate.

Had you ever heard of Ja­cob Sch­moyer?

I’ve never seen him, never heard of him, my dad never men­tioned him, ever. The first time I seen him was when [ATF] were in­ter­view­ing me and they slid his pic­ture to me and said, “Do you know this per­son?” and I said, “No. Nah, I’ve never seen that per­son in my life.” Af­ter­ward they said yeah, he’s the one who did the bomb­ing and they started ex­plain­ing how he blew the car up.

What have you learned about why your fa­ther was tar­geted by Ja­cob Sch­moyer?

He had anger to­ward my dad, he was jeal­ous, and for some rea­son, they haven’t told me yet, he started to hate my dad. We weren’t sure why be­cause my dad was giv­ing him a lot of tools from the house, help­ing him out. I think I heard, at one point, my dad was try­ing to help him adopt a dog.

He pur­posely got him into that car and it was pur­posely done that night, that week­end, be­cause he had found out my dad was go­ing to start mov­ing in a cou­ple weeks and I was go­ing to help my dad tran­si­tion over to a place in Em­maus for se­nior type liv­ing where he was gonna sell the house and calm down and fi­nally start to re­tire.

What are your thoughts about Ja­cob Sch­moyer?

My fam­ily knows some of his fam­ily. They’ve opened up and talked and a lot of stuff got passed around. They lost a baby and two in­no­cent peo­ple were killed by a per­son who is known to be sui­ci­dal … and was sort of not be­ing treated and re­leased into so­ci­ety. A lot of peo­ple knew how crazy that kid re­ally is. I’m frus­trated, an­gered and just hurt in the end. Why would you?

It’s com­plex be­cause I have a 3-year-old kid. How do you put your kid in the car and some­body else you don’t like and blow it up and kill peo­ple. I don’t get it. It just frus­trates me, angers me and makes me think, wow, there are some re­ally messed-up peo­ple out there.

A lot of times I sit and wish he just blew him­self up mak­ing the bomb that day in an empty house some­where, and just did him­self in, and the kid and my dad would be here to­day.

How did the events of Sept. 29, 2018, change your life?

Stunned to say the least. All the hol­i­days and din­ners missed, ev­ery hol­i­day that came and went and he wasn’t there. A month be­fore this hap­pened, my son started talk­ing and say­ing “grandpa, grandpa.” He was so proud of that. It’s al­most a year and that part where I hope I wake up to­mor­row and I was just hav­ing a bad dream, that part’s over. But it’s one year and I still have all the thoughts, like “Wow, dad was blown up and pur­posely killed.”

Tina Sch­moyer, sis­ter of Ja­cob Sch­moyer Can you tell us about your brother?

Well, I can def­i­nitely say with ev­ery­thing that’s hap­pened, that’s not him. Cause that’s not how he was even when we were younger, we were al­ways climb­ing trees, go­ing bike rid­ing, swim­ming in the lakes, he taught me how to fish with a lit­tle stick and a fake fish­ing line and throw­ing it out. We were lit­er­ally in­sep­a­ra­ble.

We grew up first in the Palmer­ton/Po­conos area when we were re­ally lit­tle, moved to Al­len­town Dor­neyville area when I was 8, closer to 9. We had a farm­land and had chick­ens and would have fun with the giz­zards and chas­ing each other with the feet. He would chase me around with the neck and I would chase him around with the claws. That was our brother/ sis­ter thing.

Af­ter that, we moved into Al­len­town area, and that was pretty much where we ended up be­ing, and we started to separate a lot.

Do you be­lieve your brother suf­fered from men­tal ill­ness?

When he was younger, you could see that some­thing seemed a lit­tle off but he wasn’t as bru­tal about it un­til the year of 2010 is when things started to get a lit­tle worse. He was on med­i­ca­tion.

Did this af­fect him in school?

Yes, it did. He was do­ing re­ally well for awhile, but it seemed he just started fall­ing off and just didn’t care, wasn’t in­ter­ested in it, didn’t want to bother with it. He ended up drop­ping out near the end of 12th grade.

In 2010, he ended up run­ning away and tried to com­mit sui­cide out of Vir­ginia.

Why did he at­tempt sui­cide?

There was just so much. I don’t want to put words in there. But there was just so much at that time hap­pen­ing that at a point I was just like, “I gotta stop.” I just stopped. I was like, “I need to think.”

He was tak­ing med­i­ca­tion at that time. He was tak­ing it for all that time.

Was Ja­cob happy to be a dad?

Well, I can def­i­nitely tell you in all hon­esty, he wasn’t ready to be a fa­ther. That was al­most a pushed sub­ject when it came to all of it. In or­der to make some­one happy, that’s what he did. But once my nephew was born, I could see it in his face. He was happy. He was proud to be a fa­ther at this point and he loved him.

When was the last time you heard from your brother?

I was ac­tu­ally talk­ing to him Fri­day af­ter­noon be­fore ev­ery­thing hap­pened. The main rea­son I con­tacted him was I saw an ac­ci­dent at Sum­ner and Ridge, I think it was. It was an SUV, my

first thought was, “My brother, he drives on that road some­times.” It freaked me out.

Some­thing should have clicked on me, it was 3:31 p.m on the 28th. I tell him about the crash. He re­sponds with, “Don’t often go on Sum­ner, (with a lit­tle star fig­ure).” But then af­ter he said that he says, “But yeah, ev­ery­thing is fine. Nice to hear from you.” That’s not nor­mally from him. That’s not him. And it was like some­thing should have trig­gered me right there, but for some rea­son, noth­ing trig­gered.

At first, did you think the ex­plo­sion was an ac­ci­dent?

Well, at first, hon­estly, that’s what the thought was. An ac­ci­dent. Ev­ery­body would have that first thought, “It was an ac­ci­dent.”

No­body would have ex­pected any­thing like this from him at all.

Like, I even had a lady who reached out to me one day say­ing that she rec­og­nized my brother be­cause he helped change a tire for her in a Wal­mart park­ing lot, and she tried to give him money for it and he was like, “No, I don’t want it.” Like, again, that’s who my brother was. So this is why none of this would have ever been ex­pected.

When did you find out it was in­ten­tional?

It was a hor­ri­ble feel­ing. [Po­lice] had me call, and we went down and talked to them and that’s when they told us about ev­ery­thing. Then we just kind of went from there, and when they started talk­ing and telling us about the ve­hi­cle, the first thing that popped in my head was, “If this is sui­cide, he would leave some­thing be­hind. He wouldn’t leave it in question.”

I al­ready knew that specif­i­cally be­cause he did that in 2010, when he wanted to go and run away to com­mit sui­cide, he left notes on a USB that I was able to ac­cess. I could fig­ure out his pass­words be­cause he used to leave them all over the place, and I fig­ured out how to get into it. I man­aged to fig­ure that one out.

And then all of a sud­den, I get this call say­ing, “There are let­ters.” On Tues­day. I was like, “Well, there you go. That an­swers that one.”

What was the gen­eral tone of the let­ters?

He was up­set, is the best way to put it, and a lot of things that were said weren’t even true. He did men­tion my name in my fa­ther’s let­ter and that’s why even they were as­sum­ing I was sup­posed to get one be­cause I was ob­vi­ously on his mind at that time. But noth­ing ever got to me.

Is there any­thing you would want to say to Mr. Hall­man’s fam­ily?

I did speak with his niece, I don’t re­mem­ber the name. Her and I ac­tu­ally con­ver­sated through a Face­book mes­sage. We ac­tu­ally called each other as well via Face­book phone call. So, we talked a lit­tle bit about it. And she was up­set. And I can un­der­stand. You know, I was up­set. But there was no foul words, noth­ing bad that came across from ei­ther one of us. I sent my con­do­lences.

Have you been been back to where the ex­plo­sion oc­curred?

No, we try to avoid ev­ery di­rec­tion we pos­si­bly can to avoid Al­len­town. I don’t even want to be a part of Al­len­town. I get like, I guess you could say anx­i­ety. Like I start get­ting very heavy breath­ing and shaky. It’s like, I don’t even want to be in Al­len­town.

APRIL GAMIZ/THE MORN­ING CALL

David E. Hall­man holds a por­trait of his fa­ther, David H. Hall­man, with his dog, Skippy, out­side his fa­ther’s home on Hall Street, around the cor­ner from where a car ex­plo­sion killed his fa­ther.

AMY SHORTELL/THE MORN­ING CALL

Tina Sch­moyer talks about what the past year has been like with­out her brother Ja­cob Sch­moyer, who died in an Al­len­town car ex­plo­sion.

KATH­LEEN POND/CON­TRIBUTED PHOTO

Ja­cob Sch­moyer, cen­ter, with his grand­fa­ther Ed­ward Pond, and son, JJ. The photo was taken by Kath­leen Pond, Ja­cob Sch­moyer’s step­grand­mother, dur­ing a visit.

APRIL GAMIZ/THE MORN­ING CALL PHO­TOS

With tears in her eyes, Chris­tine Erd­man, niece of David H. Hall­man, places flow­ers on her un­cle’s steps on Hall Street in Al­len­town, near the spot where he was killed by a car ex­plo­sion in Septem­ber 2018.

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