Bombs Rock 2 NM Churches as Parishioners Gather

No injuries in Las Cruces; police say explosions likely linked
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 3, 2015 7:35 AM CDT
Bombs Rock 2 NM Churches as Parishioners Gather
Aaliyah Doninguez, 11, stands near Holy Cross Catholic Church on Sunday, Aug. 2, 2015, in Las Cruces, N.M., advising parishioners that mass is canceled.   (Robin Zielinski/The Las Cruces Sun-News via AP)

Police are investigating a pair of blasts that rocked two New Mexico churches where parishioners had gathered yesterday morning, though there were no injuries and damage was "relatively minor," authorities tell NBC News. One explosion came from a mailbox outside an administrative entrance to Calvary Baptist Church in Las Cruces at about 8:20am local time, reports the Washington Post. About 30 people had gathered inside and witnesses say they felt the building shake. Twenty minutes later, the pastor at Holy Cross Catholic Church, three miles away, said he heard a "pow" while passing out communion. "I didn't know if it was a shotgun blast…but it was very loud," he tells the Las Cruces News. The bomb exploded in a trash can outside the church's glass front doors, which shattered.

"I'm just thankful to God nobody was standing by the door, because there's usually always somebody standing there," the pastor says. "Ten minutes later we would have been leaving and standing around that space." A churchgoer at Calvary Baptist—which is on the same street as several other churches that weren't targeted—says he recognized bomb parts at the scene, including an Eveready battery. A police rep says only that the two devices "were not fireworks" and "were intended, I believe, to do harm and could have done harm to people." Police add the blasts are considered related and authorities have warned other nearby churches "to be on the lookout for anything suspicious." Both churches remained closed yesterday afternoon, while classes at Holy Cross' adjoining school were canceled today. (More New Mexico stories.)

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