THORNTON — Investigators recovered and disabled three incendiary devices after a married couple died in an apparent murder-suicide at a Jehovah’s Witnesses worship hall in Thornton on Christmas morning, authorities said.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses called Sunday’s incident an “unprovoked attack,” but police did not describe the nature of the devices, say where they were found or explain their connection to the fatal shooting.
Thornton police said in a news release Sunday evening that they were not looking for any additional suspects, and that no other people were injured in the incident.
“There are no further concerns for the safety of the Thornton community,” police spokesman Joe Walker said in the news release.
The Thornton Police Department said it received an initial report at 9 a.m. Sunday of a structure fire at Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, 951 Milky Way, according to an earlier news release.
That was followed by a report that an adult man shot and killed an adult woman at that location, and that the man then fatally shot himself, police said in the news release, which was issued around 12:30 p.m.
The dead couple were married and former members of the Kingdom Hall’s congregation, Thornton police said. Their identities will be released later by the Adams County Coroner’s Office.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened by the unprovoked attack and loss of life at our Kingdom Hall in Thornton,” the Sherrelwood Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses said in a statement. “We are cooperating with the authorities as they carry out their investigation into the event.
“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of those who have been traumatized by the heinous actions that took the life of an innocent victim and threatened the lives of many others,” the statement continued. “We are praying for the families of all those affected.”
Police released little information about the incident Sunday. Efforts to reach officials at the Thornton Police Department by phone were unsuccessful Sunday, and officers at the scene declined to discuss the shooting with reporters.
The Kingdom Hall in Thornton holds three services every Sunday, congregants said. Jehovah’s Witnesses officials said there had been a service scheduled at that location at 9:30 a.m. Sunday. The services were regular meetings since Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate Christmas.
Luis Sanchez lives across the street and heard two gunshots Sunday morning. He said he looked outside to see a woman lying on the ground outside.
“It’s very sad,” he said. “It’s Christmas.”
Brian Steeplton was on the way to the airport to return home to Virginia when he heard about the incident and stopped by Kingdom Hall to support his fellow Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“We don’t fight, we don’t carry arms,” he said.
Thornton Mayor Jan Kulmann, in a statement, said she was “saddened by the violent actions that took two lives in our city. This kind of violence is always shocking but particularly on Christmas Day.”
Adams County sheriff’s Sgt. Adam Sherman first confirmed to The Post that Thornton police had responded to a shooting. He said he did not have additional details Sunday morning, and referred questions to the Thornton Police Department.
Thornton police tweeted about the incident for the first time at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, saying they were investigating a homicide at Kingdom Hall, but that “there is no active threat.”
There was a large police, fire and ambulance presence around Kingdom Hall on Sunday morning, including the Adams County Sheriff’s Office’s Hazardous Materials Unit.
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