Man arrested, charged federally in connection with Lawrenceville explosion

PITTSBURGH — One man has been arrested and charged in connection with the explosion in Lawrenceville. A second man has also been taken into custody, sources told Channel 11.

Charles Baker, 33, faces federal charges of illegal possession of an unregistered destructive device in connection with tossing the improvised explosive device from a vehicle.

Baker turned himself in to law enforcement Tuesday evening, according to the United States Attorney’s Office. He made his initial appearance before a judge Wednesday afternoon via video.

On Tuesday afternoon, SWAT surrounded a home in Lawrenceville Tuesday afternoon in connection with Sunday’s explosion. Police said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had a federal search warrant for a home in the 3400 block of Ligonier Street. ATF agents said Baker had a history of making homemade bombs.

Neighbors sent us Snapchat video showing the officers with their rifles drawn surrounding the house. They said that the SWAT team then blocked off several streets and then shot what sounded like flash bangs or tear gas inside the house.

Investigators said Baker was not there but another man was inside. He told agents Baker asked him for a ride in his Chevy Silverado pickup truck and that once in the vehicle, Baker pulled out the device, lit it and tossed it out the window on Penn Avenue.

ATF went to a second location on Nelson Run Road in Ross Township.

The explosion happened just after 9 p.m. Sunday in the 3600 block of Penn Avenue.

Police said there is surveillance video that showed an incendiary device being thrown out of a white pickup truck before it exploded. Officials said the explosion damaged a 2020 Subaru Forester. A rear quarter panel was partially ripped off, pieces of plastic were broken off the car and nails that were inside the device slammed into the passenger side rear tire. Investigators said the fact that there were projectiles placed inside the explosive device was evidence it was designed as a weapon.

Pittsburgh police investigators recovered a Twisted Tea can, green cloth possibly from a Crown Royal bag, dozens of nails and screws, car parts and a white powdery substance as evidence.

Baker faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 if convicted.

The identity of the second person arrested has not yet been made public.