Our network

Man Charged in Deadly Fourth of July Explosion | Crime

Title (Max 100 Characters)

Man Charged in Deadly Fourth of July Explosion

LAS VEGAS -- Nearly five months after a fatal Fourth of July accident, the Clark County District Attorney's Office has filed charges of involuntary manslaughter and reckless disregard of persons or property in the death of 22-year-old Kacey Barlow.

The criminal complaint names 20-year-old Andrew Molitor as the man who overstuffed a homemade cannon with gunpowder before lighting it. The cannon exploded, killing Barlow.

But the Barlow family believes Molitor didn't act alone. There were at least 12 different people around that knew what was going on and hid behind cars as the cannon was lit. But Kacey Barlow had no idea that he was in danger.

Read the police report against Andrew Molitor

The parents say the Fourth of July was their favorite holiday. According to Kacey Barlow's father Louis, they heard a loud bang before someone came screaming Kacey's name.

"In 10 minutes, I lost my son," said Kacey's mother Pamela Barlow. "I would have never thought my son would die before me."

In an instant, what happened that day has forever left a hole in the Barlow family. Kacey's mother says they've lost their best friend.

"Christmas is coming and I'm not even going to put my Christmas tree up because I can't go there," she said.

In a statement to investigators, Molitor admits to taking out an 18-inch long steel pipe cannon made by his father, Tony Molitor, a Las Vegas Fire Department employee.

"For somebody who actually works for the fire department to construct a bomb type device, it's outrageous. It's shocking," said Barlow family attorney Steven Burris. "The shrapnel spread out hundreds and hundreds of feet in many directions."

Molitor says he filled about a quarter of the cannon with gun powder. Witnesses say Molitor put paper in it and packed it with a Roman Candle and other smaller fireworks.

The police report says Molitor tried lighting the cannon once with a propane torch, but the wind blew out the fuse. When he lit it a second time, the cannon exploded. Shrapnel struck Kacey Barlow in the chest and moments later he collapsed. Molitor says he never intended to hurt anyone.

"I don't think he intentionally meant to kill Kacey, no. But at the same time, I think he should have thought more about what he was doing and the lives he had in his own hands," said Pamela Barlow.

"Whether it's the loss of a finger or the loss of a life, it affects everyone around you," said Louis Barlow.

Burris is baffled how boys were able to purchase gun powder to build a makeshift bomb. The victim's family doesn't want this to happen to anyone else, so they're working with legislators on a bill that enforces stricter laws on who's able to buy gunpowder.

Molitor is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on the charges on January 11, 2011. If convicted, he is looking at up to five years in jail.