The man who planted explosives in the Jehovah’s Witnesses worship hall before killing his wife, himself suspected of the second bombing

2 dead, police investigate homicide at Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation in Thornton


2 dead, police investigate homicide at Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation in Thornton

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Man who police say planted three explosives in Jehovah’s Witness worship hall before killing his wife and himself Christmas Day is believed to have bombed a union building earlier in the day.

The explosives Enoch Apodaca, 46, allegedly planted in the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in suburban Denver, Colorado, all failed to detonate. But shortly before heading to the venue, Apodaca went to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 68 building, which the police called his “workplace”, where he was seen entering the building with a bucket around 8:45 a.m. Shortly after he left, there was a “big explosion”, police said.

The building was then closed and no one was injured. Police said the explosive devices used at the Kingdom Hall matched those placed in the electricians building.

Police were called to the Kingdom Hall around 9 a.m., officials said, after a structure fire and gunshots were reported. Investigators found that Apodaca ordered his wife, Melissa Martinez, to back a black Dodge truck to a building window. Apodaca smashed the window with a hammer, planted the explosives, then approached his wife from behind with a shotgun. He shot her in the back of the neck and then killed himself, police said.

There were two other people in the lobby at the time, but they were not injured, police said. A person used a fire extinguisher to put out a fire that had started near one of the faulty explosives.

Investigators found the couple had been former members of the Kingdom Hall congregation, but were “no longer welcome”. Apodaca had contacted another church member expressing interest in returning, but was asked to speak with Kingdom Hall elders. Police said the two acts on Dec. 25 appeared “to be the result of personal issues Enoch had with his employer and the couple’s issues with Kingdom Hall.”

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Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Thornton, CO.

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Just over a year before the explosions and shootings, a representative for Apodaca’s former employer said he had told a union representative from Local 68 that he would shoot his wife and the union representative after he and his wife lost their jobs, according to the Associated Press.

Apodaca also reportedly told the rep he would “sue those responsible” for his and his wife’s job loss, AP reported. According to a request for a protective order against Apodaca filed in December 2021, Apodaca was fired in June of that year, but the request did not say why, AP reported. It is unclear under what circumstances Martinez lost his job.

Police said investigators found no other explosives at the couple’s home, but found “numerous items consistent with making explosives similar to those found in the Kingdom Hall”.

Personal effects had also been put away and marked for individual family members.

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