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BROOKFIELD Officials seek aid of ATF agents



Published: Wed, July 11, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The fire marshal called federal agents into the probe.

By TIM YOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

BROOKFIELD -- Federal agents have joined the investigation of a July 4 explosion that injured two 19-year-olds from Pennsylvania.

Robert Sharp, an investigator with the Ohio Fire Marshal's Office, said Tuesday that the U.S. Treasury Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has been called in.

The device that has been described as "larger than a consumer-class firework" exploded in the yard at 759 Albright-McKay Road.

Authorities have stopped short of terming it a bomb.

Injured were Jason Nicoloff of 447 Butterfly Lane, Hermitage, and Luke Forrest of Saranac Drive, Sharpsville.

Forrest was released Saturday from Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh. Nicoloff remains in Allegheny General Hospital in that city.

Frank D'Alesio, agent in charge of the ATF's Youngstown office, said doctors are trying to save Forrest's leg.

ATF is responsible for investigating bombings and large arson fires.

Reason: Sharp said he sought the agency's help because of multistate circumstances surrounding the explosion and because of the agency's expertise in investigating explosives.

Sharp has also asked for help from the Pennsylvania State Fire Marshal's Office and expects to meet soon with investigators from there.

The explosion was heard three miles away and created a hole in the yard that was a foot deep and 10 inches in diameter.

Although tests are not complete, Sharp explained, it appears the device, contrary to rumors in some areas, did not contain shrapnel, or metal fragments such as nails.

Investigators have not determined many details yet, such as if the device was already assembled when Nicoloff and Forrest got it or the composition of the explosives.

"We still have a lot of talking to do with different people," Sharp said.

He hasn't been able to interview Nicoloff because he has had three surgeries on his injuries. He will be interviewed later this week.

Sharp said he interviewed Forrest only once, but Forrest was in at lot of pain at the time.

D'Alesio said the men's parents are cooperating in the investigation.

He said it appears the device came from Pennsylvania.

It's uncertain if it was given to them or purchased.

yovich@vindy.com




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