Couple that died outside of Thornton Kingdom Hall had ‘issues’ with congregation, ‘were no longer welcome’

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THORNTON, Colo. — Thornton police say the two people who died outside a Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall in Thornton on Sunday had “issues” with the congregation and “were no longer welcome” to join it.

According to a final report from the Thornton Police Department, the gunman was identified as Enoch Apodaca, 46. The woman was identified as Melissa Apodaca, 44. They were married and former members of the Kingdom Hall.

On Sunday around 8:45 a.m., Enoch walked into his workplace along the 5600 block of Logan Street with what appeared to be a bucket. After a short time, he walked outside the building and got into his car.

At the same time, there was a large explosion at the business, police said. It was closed at the time and nobody was injured.

Firefighters and the Adams County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene. At the time, they could not identify any suspects.

Just afterward, around 9 a.m., Thornton officers responded to the Kingdom Hall located at 951 Milky Way after receiving a report of a structure fire and shooting.

Based on the subsequent investigation, police learned that Enoch had been seen directing Melissa to back a black Dodge truck up to the Kingdom Hall, just below a window. Enoch then broke the window with a hammer and “placed what was later discovered to be three explosive devices into the Kingdom Hall building,” police said. On Monday, police described those devices as “pipe bomb-like.”

Melissa then exited the truck, and Enoch approached her and shot her in the back of her head with a shotgun. He then shot himself, police said.

Both of them died at the scene outside of the Kingdom Hall. Nobody else was injured in this incident.

Police said none of the explosive devices in the building detonated. However, a bomb technician said a fuse on one of them “nearly detonated before being extinguished or experiencing a malfunction,” police said. Bomb technicians with Adams County later rendered the devices safe.

Police said at least one of the devices was attached to a bucket, similar to the one Enoch carried into the business off Logan Street.

The Kingdom Hall was almost empty at the time, since the first meeting of the day wasn’t set to begin until 9:30 a.m. Two people were inside and one of them used a fire extinguisher to put out a fire that appeared to have been started by one of the devices, police said.

During their investigation, Thornton police searched the Apodaca household, which is along the 8600 block of Zuni Street in Westminster. No other devices were found, but police did discover items typically used with the manufacturing of explosives.

“It also appeared that personal belongings had been set out and clearly marked to be distributed to specific family members,” police said.

The couple had been previous members of the Kingdom Hall but “were no longer welcome,” police said.

In conclusion, Thornton police determined that the incident at the Adams County business appeared to be connected with Enoch’s “personal issues” with his employer, and the incident in Thornton was the result of the “couple’s own issues” with the Kingdom Hall.

The Denver Post reported that Enoch previously pledged to kill Melissa and shoot a union representative after he was fired from his job as an electrician in 2021, his former employer alleged in court filings.

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1 comment

  1. Jehovah’s Witnesses have harsh policies regarding shunning people that are no longer welcome in a congregation after officially being “disfellowshipped.”

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