A 44-year-old Colorado man was arrested late Thursday night on charges of arson and being a felon in possession of firearms in connection with the Jan. 6 pipe bomb explosion outside a building that houses the Colorado Springs chapter of the NAACP.
According to court documents, Thaddeus Murphy, 44, admitted to placing the homemade explosive device outside of the building, but said that he was not targeting the civil rights organization. Rather, he said, the explosive was meant to target a tax services accountant who also once worked out of the same building.
Murphy told investigators that he made the pipebomb because he was distraught over financial problems and that the accountant whose office was once in the building would not return his phone calls or emails.
Police said they found seven firearms in a search of Murphy’s home as well as explosive devices similar to the one deployed at the building,
The explosion became a national story in part because few media outlets covered it initially, prompting outrage from activists who insisted that it had been a targeted attack against the civil rights organization. However, FBI and local officials remained careful with their wording, insisting that they could not definitely conclude that the NAACP branch had been targeted.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, the Colorado Springs NAACP chapter president Henry Allen, a former police officer, said he was skeptical that the explosive was intended for the tax preparation office, noting that it has been years since the accountant had an office in the building.
“Criminals are people that will say anything to lessen the sentence,” Allen told the paper. “It’s up to the courts on how they interpret things. It’s up to the prosecutor on the federal level, if they want to take this guy as gospel.”