The man suspected of orchestrating a massive explosion at an apartment building on Santa Fe Drive in August had "malicious intent" and went through a "great deal of planning," according to the Denver Fire Department.
On August 14, 2018, Todd Norman Perkins, 56, allegedly broke into the seven-unit apartment building's basement, poured gasoline in four different areas and opened multiple gas lines to cause an explosion, said Greg Pixley, the Denver Fire Department's public information officer, during a press conference today, February 11. The flammable liquids eventually ignited, resulting in the explosion.
The press conference came hours after officers with the Lakewood Police Department arrested Perkins at a medical treatment facility in the Denver suburb on charges of first-degree arson and first-degree attempted murder.
Perkins had been a handyman for the apartment complex property and had lived in a camper there. According to the fire department, Perkins had argued with the building owner and some tenants and was subsequently fired from his job. The day before the explosion, the building owner built a fence to keep Perkins off the property, the department says.
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Working with two detection dogs, investigators with the fire department found the forcibly opened gas lines, in addition to three cigarette lighters, a box of matches, and a small plastic gas container near the explosion area. They also found a wrench owned by Perkins that was an exact match for one needed to open gas lines in the building.
Until his arrest, Perkins had been receiving treatment at the unnamed facility in Lakewood for serious injuries he suffered in the explosion. Perkins's clothes were soaked in gasoline when he was found at the scene. Nine people were injured, and two were taken to the hospital, including Perkins, who was put into a medically induced coma while he received treatment, according to Pixley.
Pixley said he's thankful that only nine individuals were injured from an explosion that left the building looking like "a war zone."
"This was a very significant explosion," he said. "We are blessed that we did not have further injury, further damage. This could’ve been a very catastrophic event that could’ve resulted in a tremendous loss of life."