El Monte church explosion, vandalism prompt multi-agency investigation, FBI says

EL MONTE, Calif. (KABC) -- An explosion and vandalism early Saturday morning at a church in El Monte have prompted an investigation by the FBI and local authorities, officials said.

The incident was reported by multiple 911 callers shortly after 1 a.m. at the First Works Baptist church at 2600 Tyler Avenue, according to police. Officers and firefighters arrived at the scene to find smoke emanating from the building but no active fire, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said.

"It appeared that the walls to the church had been vandalized as well as all the windows," El Monte police Lt. Christopher Cano said. 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 lieutenant said.

Whether anyone was inside the building at the time was unclear. No injuries were reported.

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In a statement, the FBI described the incident as an "IED attack," adding that the bureau's bomb technicians and an evidence response team were investigating.

"Although we do not yet know the motive, I am aware of the anti-LGBTQ+ and misogynist sermons given by the pastor of First Works Baptist Church," L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis said in a statement, "and my office has referred concerning matters pertaining to the pastor to the County's Human Rights Commission, who has been working in collaboration with the City of El Monte to de-escalate the situation."

Anyone with information about the explosion is urged to contact the FBI's Los Angeles field office at (310) 477-6565 or www.fbi.gov/tips.
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