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D.A.: Chesco twins made, set off bombs during winter break

Some college students go away to Florida for the winter break or hang out at home, catching up with high school friends.

Caleb Tate (left) and his twin brother, Daniel, are accused of setting off multiple improvised explosive devices in Chester and Lancaster Counties.
Caleb Tate (left) and his twin brother, Daniel, are accused of setting off multiple improvised explosive devices in Chester and Lancaster Counties.Read moreChester County District Attorney's Office

Some college students go away to Florida for the winter break or hang out at home, catching up with high school friends.

Not twin brothers Daniel and Caleb Tate, of Cochranville, in Chester County, according to authorities.

The brothers were busy making bombs, and then exploding them, the Chester County District Attorney's Office said Tuesday.

The Tate twins, 22, of the unit block of Linmar Lane, made five homemade bombs and set them off in Chester and Lancaster Counties during their winter break, authorities said.

They allegedly damaged three sheds - two used by the Amish.

The sheds were unoccupied at the time, and no one was injured.

The brothers surrendered Monday and were charged with possession of explosives, arson by explosion, criminal mischief and related offenses.

Daniel Tate just graduated from Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., and Caleb is still a student at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., and has another year there before he graduates, their attorneys said.

When investigators with the Pennsylvania State Police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives went out to California in February to speak to the twins - Caleb was studying and doing an internship in Los Angeles this past semester - Caleb "readily admitted to his role in this conduct and accepted responsibility," his attorney, Robert Donatoni said.

Daniel Tate's attorney, Vincent DiFabio, said his client cooperated with authorities, but said he did not know the details of the cooperation.

According to the Chester County District Attorney's Office, while the twins were home for the Christmas break in December, they busied themselves making bombs out of metal pipes, fuel containers, propane canisters, propane torch tips and other materials.

They allegedly set off their first bomb Dec. 20, when they blew up a mailbox at a residence at 200 S. Friends Meetinghouse Road, on a rural, grassy road in Highland Township, Chester County.

Two days later, they detonated a bomb in a wooded area in the 1800 block of Faggs Manor Road, in Londonderry Township, Chester County, authorities said.

Afterward, the twins ratcheted up the risk and blew up sheds, officials said.

On Dec. 30, they exploded a pipe bomb in an Amish phone shed, which, the prosecutor's office explained, is an enclosed building with a phone used by multiple Amish families, who do not permit phones in their homes. The explosion badly damaged the shed, at 328 Bartville Road, in Colerain Township, Lancaster County.

Then, on Dec. 31, the twins detonated a bomb in an Amish produce shed at 905 May Post Office Road in Strasburg Township, Lancaster County, damaging that shed as well, authorities said.

Later on Dec. 31, they allegedly exploded another bomb in a well pump shed at 918 Ross Fording Road in West Fallowfield Township, in Chester County, also damaging that shed.

The explosions generally occurred in the early-morning hours, authorities said.

The District Attorney's Office said investigators found video of the twins shoplifting materials to make the bombs from local stores. Some of the supplies were charged to a debit or credit card in Daniel Tate's name, Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan said.

The twins were also charged with retail theft.

Investigators also found Daniel Tate's fingerprint on electrical tape recovered at one of the explosion scenes, authorities said.

The twins could not be reached by phone Tuesday. No one answered a number listed for them in public records.

Asked why Caleb Tate allegedly made and set off homemade bombs, Donatoni said: "It's not something appropriate for me to get into now."

DiFabio did not say whether his client admitted to anything, only saying that authorities were "fully satisfied with his cooperation and candor."

According to an affidavit of probable cause, when Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Jerry Harper and ATF Special Agent Tim Shelton went to speak to Daniel on Feb. 18 at Pepperdine, "he confessed to manufacturing, and intentionally detonating pipe bomb explosive devices with his brother Caleb Tate at all of the explosive scenes."

Daniel told the investigators that "camping fuel components were attached to the device at most scenes, and were stolen from Walmart," the affidavit says.

The two investigators also went to speak to Caleb that day at the Oakwood apartment complex in Los Angeles.

Caleb also "confessed to manufacturing, and intentionally detonating pipe bomb explosive devices," the affidavit of probable cause in his case says.

Both defense lawyers said after the investigators spoke to the twins in California, authorities agreed that the brothers could finish their respective semesters as long as they didn't do anything criminal in California and as long as they surrendered to authorities in Pennsylvania when they returned.

DiFabio said after Daniel graduated from Pepperdine with a bachelor's degree in psychology, he and Caleb drove back to Pennsylvania.

The twins returned to the state Sunday and surrendered to the State Police Monday, when they were arraigned and released on unsecured bond.

They are scheduled for a June 9 preliminary hearing.

"As far as Caleb is concerned," Donatoni said, "my advice to him is to continue to accept responsibility."

He said Caleb was studying music business and entrepreneurship at Belmont and was in Los Angeles this past semester as part of a internship program with Belmont.

Belmont confirmed that Caleb Tate was a student there this year and was studying during the spring semester in Los Angeles as part of the Belmont West program. Its communications office said in a statement that the university does not comment on ongoing investigations, but that it is deeply committed to student safety.

A message left at Pepperdine's communications office was not immediately returned.

As for the twins' summer plans?

DiFabio said things may be put on hold for Daniel, seeing that he is now facing charges. Daniel was going to look for a job and was also thinking of graduate school, his lawyer said.

As for Caleb, Donatoni said: "He will need to take a breather and figure what he will do this summer."