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Man who planted explosives at Jehovah's Witness worship hall before killing wife, himself suspected of 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 00:45

A man who police say planted three explosives inside a Jehovah's Witness worship hall before killing his wife and himself on Christmas Day is suspected of bombing a union building earlier in the day.

The explosives that Enoch Apodaca, 46, allegedly planted at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses in suburban Denver, Colorado, all failed to detonate. But shortly before he went to the hall, Apodaca went to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 68 building, which police called his "place of business," where he was seen entering the building with a bucket at around 8:45 a.m. Shortly after he left, there was a "large explosion," police said.

The building was closed at the time and no one was hurt. Police said that the explosive devices used at Kingdom Hall match the one planted at the electrical workers' building.

Police were called to Kingdom Hall at around 9:00 a.m., officials said, after a structure fire and shooting were reported. Investigators found that Apodaca had directed his wife, Melissa Martinez, to back a black Dodge truck up to a window of the building. Apodaca broke the window with a hammer, placed the explosives, and then approached his wife from behind with a shotgun. He shot her in the back of the head, then shot himself, police said.

There were two other people in the hall at the time, but they were not injured, police said. One person used a fire extinguisher to put out a fire that began near one of the failed explosives.

Investigators found that the couple had been previous members of the Kingdom Hall congregation, but were "no longer welcomed." Apodaca had reached out to another member of the church expressing an interest in returning, but was directed to speak with Kingdom Hall elders. Police said both acts on Dec. 25 appeared to "be a result of personal issues Enoch had with his employer, and the couples' own issues with Kingdom Hall." 

Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses in Thornton, CO. CBS

Just over a year before the explosions and shooting, a representative of Apodaca's former employer said that he had told a Local 68 union representative 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 representative that he would "come after the people responsible" for him and his wife both losing their jobs, AP reported. According to an application for a protection order against Apodaca filed in December 2021, Apodaca had been fired in June of that same year, but the application didn't say why, AP reported. It's not clear under what circumstances Martinez lost her job. 

Police said that investigators found no further explosives at the couple's homes, but did find "numerous items consistent with the manufacturing of explosives similar to those found in Kingdom Hall." 

Personal belongings had also been set out and marked for individual family members. 

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