Arrest Made in Colorado Springs Bombing, NAACP Not the Target

AP/Colordo Department of Corrections, HO
AP/Colorado Department of Corrections, HO

An arrest has been made in the Colorado Springs case known as the “NAACP bombing.” But according to the criminal complaint in the case, the bomb was intended as a warning to the suspect’s accountant and not an attack on the NAACP office.

The criminal complaint identifies Thaddeus Cheyenne Murphy as the individual accused of building the homemade pipe bomb and leaving it outside a business in Colorado Springs. The complaint describes a trail of evidence–including dog hair, cell phone data, video and eyewitnesses accounts–which eventually led to search warrants for Murphy’s home. When authorities confronted Murphy on Thursday February 19th, he confessed, the document says. A non-verbatim summary of the interview with Murphy appears in the criminal complaint:

An accountant by the name of Steve Dehaven wouldn’t return to him (Murphy) his tax records from 2006 to the present and wouldn’t return his phone calls. Dehaven operated his business out of the building located at 603 South El Paso, Colorado Springs, Colorado. Murphy had to declare bankruptcy and need the records because he had financial issues. Murphy believed Dehaven destroyed his tax records. Murphy admitted to manufacturing a pipe bomb. Murphy believed that he set the pipe bomb outside of Dehavens office on January 6, 2015. Murphy believed that Dehaven and his son intentionally were keeping him (Murphy) from his tax records and were giving him the run around. Murphy stated that he “flipped out” because of his financial problems. Murphy built the pipe bomb as a warning to Steve Dehaven.

The Denver Post reports that Steven DeHaven appears to be the same man who was convicted of preparing false tax returns in 2010.

The head of the local NAACP chapter is suggesting that Murphy might be lying. He told the AP, “Does anyone really think this guy is going to admit to this?” A spokesman for the US Attorney’s office said they are continuing to investigate “whether that confession is true.”

When the bombing took place on January 6th, it was almost immediately assumed to be a domestic terror attack on the NAACP. Some outlets reported it as a throwback to the days of the Jim Crow-era. Others connected it to a specific history of violence against the NAACP, including a bombing in 1951 and the murder of Medgar Evers in 1963.

While some spokespeople for the organization were hesitant to label the attack a hate crime until the investigation was complete, other voices seemed eager to assume the worst. NAACP board member Julian Bond told Time magazine, “Obviously, this is a terror attack.” Rep. John Lewis tweeted, “deeply troubled by the bombing in Colorado. It reminds me of another period. These stories cannot be swept under the rug.” And DeRay Mckesson, a high profile activist in the Ferguson protest movement, tweeted, “This was an act of domestic terrorism.”

Journalist and author Michelle Malkin, who lives in Colorado Springs, highlighted the criminal complaint on Twitter today. A month ago, Malkin wrote a column arguing that there was no conclusive evidence the NAACP had been the target of the attack.