Man suspected in explosion before killing wife, himself

Dec 27, 2022, 9:58 PM | Updated: Dec 28, 2022, 4:12 pm

DENVER (AP) — A man who put three failed explosive devices inside a worship hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in suburban Denver before killing his wife and himself there on Christmas morning is suspected of causing an explosion at a union building, police said Wednesday.

Shortly before Sunday’s murder-suicide, Enoch Apodaca, 46, entered the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 68 building with a bucket and there was a “large explosion” shortly after he left, Thornton police said. The building, which police described as Apodaca’s “place of business,” was closed and no one was hurt. The bucket was similar to one used at the worship hall, police said.

Just over a year before the explosion and shootings, a representative of Apodaca’s former employer, Sturgeon Electric Company Inc., said Apodaca told a Local 68 representative that he would shoot his wife and the union representative, and then “will come after the people responsible” after he and his wife lost their jobs. The accusation came in an application for a protection order, first reported by The Denver Post. The document noted that Apodaca had been fired in June 2021 but did not say why.

According to police, Apodaca and his wife, identified by the coroner as 44-year-old Melissa Martinez, arrived at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Thornton at around 9 a.m., about a half hour before the first meeting of the day was scheduled. The couple had previously been members but were no longer welcome there, police said.

Apodaca directed his wife to back up a truck to a window before breaking the window with a hammer and putting the explosive devices inside, police said. Apodaca then shot her before shooting himself, they said.

One of the devices appeared to start a fire while two church members were inside the hall, police said. One of them used a fire extinguisher to put out the flames. None of the devices detonated but a bomb technician found that one of them nearly did before malfunctioning or being extinguished, police said.

No explosives were found in the couple’s home, police said. Instead, investigators found personal belongings that had been apparently set out and marked to be given to specific family members.

The Post also reported Wednesday that police in nearby Westminster had received seven calls to respond to Apodaca’s home since September 2021, including one on Sept. 13, 2021, in which a person warned police that Apodaca was threatening violence, using drugs and withdrawing from his family after he and his wife lost their jobs. In the service records provided to the newspaper for three of those calls, there was no record that the cases progressed past the initial call, it said.

An officer responded to Apodaca’s home in response to the Sept. 13, 2021, call, which was made by a cousin. But no report was written because the officer did not find any crime had been committed, Westminster police spokesperson Sgt. Ray Esslinger told The Associated Press.

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Man suspected in explosion before killing wife, himself