Throwback Thursday: '1970 explosion destroys Shaker Hts. police station' from WEWS Video Vault

SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio - Martin Berns walked into the Shaker Heights Police department on Lee Road in Feb., 1970 and detonated an explosive that destroyed the building.

People working in the building at the time were injured, but the only death was the man who detonated it, Berns.

By accounts, the 21-year-old Berns had been a patient in a local mental institution, unhappy with that incarceration, after his release, he shot the doctor who sent him here. The doctor survived.

Our footage in the video player begins as searchers dig through the rubble following the explosion.

Next, WEWS reporter Lee Bailey adds a twist to the investigation into the bombing. Bailey says Berns was also a suspect in the downing of a TAG Airlines plane in Lake Erie just a few days before the Shaker blast.

A WEWS reporter talks to one of the survivors of the blast, a Shaker Hts. police officer. Officer Joseph Deoma, in his hospital bed showing the cuts to his face, says he has no idea why Berns did what he did.

As part of the investigation, we see Dr. Lester Adelson, assistant county coroner, examining Berns’ draft card.

Berns may have had second thoughts about the bombing. According to an on-camera interview with Sidney Pearlman, the clerk of courts, Berns began to walk out of the building, absorbing a portion of the blast and saving many lives including Pearlman’s.

WEWS reporter Roger Simm reports on coroner Sam Gerber’s findings. There is speculation of other targets Berns may have been looking to bomb. Simm has an ominous query, although Berns had reportedly purchased 120 pounds of explosives, the whereabouts of 30 pounds is not known.

We close with film of a new temporary police station being constructed and then the Fraternal Order of Police putting up a new American flag at the dedication of the new building.

As for the TAG Airline crash, investigators determined mechanical failure, not a bomb, downed TAG flight 730, killing both crew members and seven passengers en route to Detroit.

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