Package detonates outside Texas church

A package was detonated outside a building at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, the Beaumont Police Department said.

Posted: May 12, 2018 3:17 AM
Updated: May 12, 2018 3:19 AM

A package exploded this week outside an Episcopal church in the southeastern Texas city of Beaumont, police said, just two weeks after a package bomb was found and rendered safe outside a coffee shop in the same city.

The exploded package detonated on the front steps of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church between Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, when the church's rector arrived and discovered the damage, the Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, said in a statement.

"We are very blessed that no one was injured," the rector, the Rev. Steven Balke, said in a separate statement released by the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. "We appreciate everyone's prayers at this time. It has made everyone very nervous.

The explosion caused minor damage to the building, Beaumont police said.

The blast was discovered two weeks after police said a package bomb was found, but did not explode, outside a Starbucks in Beaumont, about 2 miles northwest of the church.

In the April 26 incident, a package was discovered outside the Starbucks in the early morning, and a worker moved it inside the store. While trying to open the package, the worker noticed a note, and took the package back outside before contacting police, authorities said. Police didn't reveal the contents of the note.

Investigators determined the package was an explosive device, and bomb technicians rendered it safe, police said.

The two incidents come weeks after a series of package bombings terrorized people in and near the Texas cities of Austin and San Antonio.

Police say Mark Anthony Conditt, 23, made seven bombs, some of which killed two people and wounded several others in Austin and near San Antonio over three weeks in March. He killed himself with one of his bombs as police approached his vehicle March 21, police said.

Police said Thursday the Beaumont incidents are under investigation, but they wouldn't comment about whether they are related or whether investigators have identified intended victims, a motive or a suspect or suspects.

FBI agents and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are assisting police in the investigation.

At a news conference Thursday, Beaumont police Chief James Singletary asked members of the public to call 911 if they see a package they feel is suspicious.

"We want you to be vigilant, and we want you to be careful and do not handle anything suspicious," Singletary said.

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