Authorities are investigating vandalism and an explosion that occurred Saturday at a church in El Monte.
“The FBI responded overnight with the El Monte Police Department to an IED attack at the First Works Baptist Church,” FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said. “FBI bomb technicians and an evidence response team are processing the scene which sustained damage.”
No injuries were reported, Eimiller said, adding, “A joint investigation is underway for the person or group responsible for the attack.”
Firefighters and paramedics were dispatched at 1:13 a.m. to the church at 2600 Tyler Ave. in response to smoke coming from the building, according to a Los Angeles County Fire Department dispatcher.
Firefighters cleared the scene at 4:23 a.m., he said.
Officers from the El Monte Police Department heard the explosion and were the first authorities to respond. They called the county fire department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which in turn contacted the FBI since the target was a church.
“When our units arrived at the scene they found that (the church) … was having some smoke come out of the windows,” Lt. Christopher Cano told reporters. “It appeared that the walls to the church had been vandalized as well as all the windows. (The windows) appeared at first to be smashed, then we realized that the windows were not smashed, that they had actually blown out from some type of explosion.”
The church, headed by Pastor Bruce Mejia, has been the focus of community protests in recent weeks due to what are perceived to be teachings against the LGBTQ community.
Mejia has said his doctrine since the church was launched three years ago includes condemnation of same-sex relationships.
Anyone with information regarding the incident was urged to contact the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office at 310-477-6565 or fbi.tips.gov.
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