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Two dead in suspected murder-suicide at Jehovah’s Witnesses hall in Denver suburb on Christmas

by Sam Tabachnik, The Denver Post | December 25, 2022 at 10:00 p.m.

THORNTON, Colo. -- A husband and wife are dead in a suspected murder-suicide at a Jehovah's Witnesses hall in Thornton on Christmas morning, and a hazmat team was investigating "suspicious devices" found at the scene, authorities said.

Police have released little information about what transpired Sunday morning, but the Jehovah's Witnesses called the incident an "unprovoked attack."

"The investigation is still active, witnesses being interviewed, scene being examined," Thornton police said on Twitter. " ... Still no known threats to the Thornton community."

Thornton police said they 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 a news release.

That was followed by a report that an adult man shot and killed an adult woman, and that the man then fatally shot himself, police said.

The dead couple were married and former members of the Kingdom Hall 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. We are praying for the families of all those affected."

Kingdom Hall holds three services every Sunday, congregants said. 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.

"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 earlier confirmed that Thornton police had responded to a shooting. He said he did not have additional details Sunday morning.

Thornton police tweeted at 10:30 a.m. Sunday that they were investigating a homicide at Kingdom Hall, but that "there is no active threat."

There was a large police, fire and ambulance presence in the area Sunday morning -- including the Adams County Sheriff's Office's Hazardous Materials Unit, according to Thornton police.


Distributed by Tribune Content Agency

Print Headline: Two dead in suspected murder-suicide at Jehovah’s Witnesses hall in Denver suburb on Christmas


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