The FBI and local police are investigating an explosion and vandalism in a church in Southern California famous for the controversial leader and his anti-LGBT viewpoints.
When reacting to the scene only after 1 local time there was smoke coming from the chimney and the exterior of the church had been covered with graffiti, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said.
"It seemed that the walls into the church was vandalized and all of the windows," El Monte police Lt. Christopher Cano told reporters Saturday." [The windows] seemed initially to be crushed, then we understood that the windows weren't crushed, which they had really blown from some form of explosion"
No one was hurt in the explosion, authorities said.
The First Works Baptist Church and its leader, Bruce Mejia, has generated a reputation for inflammatory speech, branded by many as hate speech. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, branded First Works Baptist Church a hate set in 2019 because of its anti-LGBT stance.
An internet petition calling for the mayor of El Monte to induce the First Works Baptist Church from town has garnered more than 15,000 signatures.
In reports and on social networking, Mejia strongly opposes homosexual marriage. In addition, he has used his social networking accounts to mock President Joe Biden and can be compared to vaccinations, frequently sharing memes ignoring the COVID-19 vaccine.
In remarks to The New York Times following the explosion, Mejia said,"It is not likely to truly dissuade us from doing what we always do"
"We are not frightened of the. It is only a tiny bump in the road, and we are still likely to have church , obviously at this present place, but we are still likely to get church and after this is said and done, we are going to return," he added.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, who represents the district where the explosion occurred, said in an announcement that"violence isn't the answer, in reaction to hate speech."
"Although we don't yet understand the rationale, am I conscious of this anti-LGBTQ+ and misogynistic sermons provided by the leader of the First Works Baptist Church; and my workplace has known concerning matters regarding the warrior into the County's Human Rights Commission, that has been working in cooperation with the City of El Monte to deescalate the circumstance."
In addition, I support the right to protest; nonetheless, this assault isn't right and it's dangerous," Solis added.
El Monte Mayor Jessica Ancona composed on Twitter,"This ancient morning's episode between the First Works Baptist Church is tremendously concerning to me personally and most people at our great City of El Monte. As your mayor, I shall always make certain that the City of El Monte is still an illustration for civility, respect, and inclusion of people throughout the country."
A demonstration scheduled to happen away from the church Sunday has been canceled, according to the organizersKeep El Monte Friendly, who composed on social websites they"would not encourage, promote or condone any violence or acts of injury."
"We encourage everybody to never participate with violence and never to fight hate with hate," the team wrote in another message on Facebook late Saturday. "Again, Maintain El Monte Friendly was made to combine the community and make a safe area for everybody. We'll continue to progressively overcome this battle through serenity."