DENVER – A handyman who previously worked at an apartment building near 4th Ave. and Santa Fe Drive that exploded in August, injuring nine people, was arrested Tuesday in connection with the explosion.
Todd Norman Perkins, 56, was arrested for investigation on first-degree arson and attempted first-degree murder charges Tuesday around noon, two sources close to the investigation told Contact7 Chief Investigator Tony Kovaleski.
Denver Fire Department Capt. Greg Pixley confirmed Perkins’ arrest at an afternoon news conference and explained more about how Perkins allegedly forced open natural gas lines and poured gasoline near the source of the fire.
Perkins lived in a camper on the property but had been fired by the owner of the apartments because of prior situations involving the owner and tenants.
Perkins was one of the nine people injured in the explosion. He spent several weeks recovering from his injuries at Denver Health after the Aug. 14 explosion and was arrested Monday while undergoing further treatment, Pixley said.
Agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives joined the investigation into the explosion along with several other agencies. A high-ranking Denver fire official told Denver7 last year that an arson investigation was part of the full probe.
The explosion damaged most of the seven-unit apartment building, which partially collapsed afterward. The building was still largely untouched in late November, though Denver Fire said their investigation was complete at that point and that the building had been turned back over to he owner.
At the time, the building’s owner, Thomas Mulcahy, said, “I have been informed not to discuss it.”
Pixley said Monday afternoon that it seemed there was a “great deal of premeditation” involved in the explosion, saying that fire investigators found three natural gas lines in the basement of the building had been forced open and that gasoline cans had been poured out and set close to the flashpoint of the fire.
Dogs and investigators also found remnants of gasoline on Perkins’ clothes while he was at the hospital, Pixley said. He said that Perkins had been in a confrontation with the building’s owner and possibly several other tenants and that those allegations would be “fleshed out further.”
Perkins was arrested with help from the Lakewood Police Department and was en route to a Denver jail on Monday afternoon.
“This event could have involved a tremendous amount of life and we are glad it did not,” Pixley said, thanking firefighters and the team of fire investigators.