COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4)– A suspect wanted in an explosion near an NAACP headquarters in Colorado Springs last month has been arrested. The suspect told investigators he wasn’t targeting the headquarters but was upset with a tax preparation business.
Thaddeus Murphy, 44, of Colorado Springs was taken into custody. He appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael E. Hegarty at 2 p.m. Friday in the Arraj Federal Courthouse, 901 19th Street in Denver, where he was advised of his rights and the charges pending against him.
Murphy faces charges of using an explosive to destroy property and being a felon in possession of weapons.
Authorities conducted raids of his home and a storage area where they discovered physical evidence that appears to tie him to the bomb including seven firearms and devices similar to the one used at the building. Murphy has prior felony convictions, which made it illegal for him to possess the firearms.
Other evidence includes duct tape found at the bomb scene containing hairs consistent with Murphy’s dog.
The blast happened Jan. 6 outside a barbershop that shares a building with the Colorado Springs NAACP chapter located at 603 South El Paso Street in Colorado Springs. A tax preparation service had also been there at one time.
Sources tell CBS4 that Murphy had been upset with the tax preparation company because they had mishandled his taxes and he owed money to the IRS as a result.
Federal agents say when they interviewed Murphy he admitted to the bombing, saying that he “flipped out.” He told investigators he was in a rage because an accountant wouldn’t return his tax records needed for a bankruptcy filing.
Authorities say a homemade explosive was detonated against the building, but a gas canister placed next to it did not ignite. The device consisted of a gas can, a pipe and powder.
There were no injuries and only minor damage.
Witnesses at the time gave a description of the white truck leaving the scene with a male in the driver’s seat. It was later found at Murphys’ home in Colorado Springs.
At the NAACP headquarters there was bewilderment because the tax service had been gone for a long time.
“Wow, that’s been so many years ago but the tax sign is still there but I don’t know what the tax would have to do with it,” said NAACP Colorado Springs spokesman Henry Allen, Jr.
Murphy has a prior criminal record of burglary and theft arrests in 1989, failure to appear in 1991 and more thefts in 2007.
Murphy is charged with one count of arson of a building. If convicted on that count, he faces not less than 5 years, and up to a $250,000 fine. He also faces one count of being a felon in possession of firearms. If convicted on that count, he faces not more than 10 years in federal prison, and up to a $250,000 fine.
This case is being jointly investigated by the FBI, ATF and the Colorado Springs Police Department with support from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office will attempt to keep Murphy behind bars when he appears at a detention hearing next week.
From Cornell William Brooks, NAACP President and CEO:
The NAACP appreciates the swift efforts of both local and federal authorities in Colorado Springs in arresting and charging a suspect in the explosion incident at our Colorado Springs Branch office. We seek a continued investigation into the motive of the alleged suspect and we look forward to the culmination of his criminal trial. We will remain vigilant as we continue fighting for civil and human rights in Colorado Springs and throughout the country.