The FBI and local law enforcement in El Monte, California are investigating an explosion that blew the windows out of a church in the city early Saturday morning. Pastor Bruce Mejia of First Works Baptist Church, which the Southern Poverty Law Center lists as an anti-LGBTQ hate group, has been the target of recent protests, as well as a Change.org petition asking the mayor of El Monte to designate it a hate group that had amassed nearly 15,000 signatures over the past three weeks.
Officers from El Monte Police Department heard an explosion at the scene around 1:00 a.m. on Saturday and called in the fire department and the FBI after finding smoke coming through the building’s broken windows and vandalism inside the church. FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said that no one was injured and that FBI bomb technicians are “processing the scene” after what she called “an IED attack.”
Mejia had filed a police report last week after receiving a bomb threat on social media. Under the church's list of beliefs on its website, it says “homosexuality is a sin and an abomination which God punishes with the death penalty.” A protest against First Works scheduled for Sunday was cancelled after the explosion, with Keep El Monte Friendly organizers saying they were in "profound shock" and urging protesters to stay away.