FBI Investigating "IED Attack" at Controversial El Monte Church
The FBI and other local police agencies are investigating a Saturday morning bombing of a controversial El Monte Church.
The explosion occurred at about 1:00 a.m. Saturday at the First Works Baptist Church in El Monte, a church reportedly known for anti-LGBT rhetoric.
No one was inside the building at the time of the blast, and the FBI says they found an explosive device at the scene.
The church's outside walls were vandalized, and police say they saw smoke rising out of the church's window.
The LA County Sheriff's Department called the church bombing an "IED attack," requiring bomb experts to examine the scene, per LA Times.
Firefighters cleared the scene at about 4:30 a.m.
Before Saturday's explosion: First Works Baptist's pastor, Bruce Mejia, filed a police report two weeks ago after receiving an arson threat on social media, per LA Times.
A Change.org petition to remove the church from El Monte has garnered over 15,000 signatures, and the Southern California Law Center lists the church as a hate group.
People have protested the church in the past over their anti-LGBT language, including condemning same-sex marriage.
The church is part of the Independent Fundamental Baptist Movement, infamously known for celebrating the 2016 Pulse gay nightclub shooting where 49 people were murdered, per NYT.