Bomb explodes at Episcopal church in Beaumont, bishop of Texas says

By Aaron Barker - Senior Web Editor, Jonathan Martinez - Anchor/Reporter

BEAUMONT, Texas - A package bomb exploded on the steps of an Episcopal church in Beaumont, a bishop said Thursday.

The Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle, bishop of the Episcopal Dioceses of Texas, said in a Facebook post that the bomb went off at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church sometime between the end of services Wednesday night and early Thursday morning.

With crime scene tape still surrounding the church, many residents were left shaken at the news of the bomb being detonated near the doorsteps.

Amanda Pena, who lives directly across the street from the church, said she was up early to bottle feed her newborn when she heard the bomb explode.

"To see this happen right here ... it terrifies me. Like, what's going to happen next?" Pena said.

"It makes you wonder, is there more? Are you checking the rest of the school? Are you checking the playgrounds? Where are my children? That sort of thing," said Jessica Hallmark, whose kids go to school at the church.

Doyle said the rector of the church reported seeing windows that were blown out, pieces of the detonated package and holes in the walls.

“I give thanks to go that no one was hurt in this incident,” Doyle said in the Facebook post.

Doyle said the FBI is investigating.

The church and school have been evacuated and will remain closed until further notice, Doyle said.

This is the second bomb found in Beaumont in less than a month. Officials said a “legitimate explosive device” was found April 26 outside a Starbucks by an employee. Investigators have not said whether the two incidents are connected.

"We want the citizens to know were doing everything possible to make sure this suspect or suspects are captured as soon as possible," Beaumont Police Chief Jim Singletary said.

Worried residents with uneasy nerves say the sooner the better.

"I'm certain that our law enforcement agencies will find whoever did this and stop them," Hallmark said.

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