AKRON, Ohio - An Akron resident, facing charges after a fireworks explosion seriously injured a 34-year-old man, was released from jail on Wednesday and said he's innocent.
Police charged Wayne Jones, 66, with manufacturing explosives, unlawful possession of dangerous ordinance, illegal assembly of chemicals/explosives and possession of criminal tools.
Kevin Skubic suffered severe injuries while loading fireworks into his truck in front of Jones' home on Grand Avenue in Akron, police said. Officers aren't sure what set off the blast, but it startled the neighborhood and shattered the windows of several homes.
Skubic is being treated in the burn unit at Akron Children's Hospital. Friends said Skubic lost his left hand, may lose his right hand, suffered eye damage and sustained burns all over his body.
"I think they're blaming me for what happened to him, but he's a grown man. I didn't have anything to do with it," Jones said, as he walked out of the Summit County Jail after posting a $5,000 bond.
ATF agents said explosive material was found inside Jones's home and Akron police said they recovered what appeared to be large homemade fireworks.
"Jones gave officers consent to search his residence and officers located explosive materials, scales, fuses funnels, nitrates and powder," said Lt. Rick Edwards.
Investigators said they believe Skubic had just left the home and was carrying a large amount of fireworks when there was a powerful eruption. However, Jones contends it was Skubic who made the explosives, and he showed up at the the house Monday night to pick up fireworks that he was storing there.
"The guy who blew himself up was the one doing the making... I walked outside and he was sitting in the driveway and it happened. That's what brought me out of the house when I heard the explosion," Jones said.
Friends of the victim said Skubic is the father of two girls and coaches some of their softball games.
"I'm just worried about the youngest one. She might never get the chance to play catch with her dad. It's sad to me," said Brittany Goff, who used to live near Skubic.
Jonna Wallin said she considers Skubic "like a third son" and is very upset over his traumatic injuries. She lived next door to him for many years.
"I've known him since he was born," Wallin said.
Shawn Wilhelm said he used to set off fireworks with Skubic each July Fourth, but said Skubic was always cautious because kids were in the neighborhood.
"He wasn't a reckless guy... I guess you shouldn't mess with fireworks that are homemade that you don't know if they're stable or not," Wilhelm said.
Jones is scheduled to appear before a magistrate on July 19.