Two DeRidder churches threatened by pipe bombs

| July 2, 2009

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) – Houses of worship were targeted in Southwest Louisiana. Bombs were found at two DeRidder churches and one exploded.

Around 10:40, Monday morning, a bomb exploded at the Champions Center of the Grace Church in DeRidder.

"City police department received a call that there was a burn mark on the side of the church that appeared to be a bomb. We responded and saw that the window had been busted out. We secured the area and the church staff evacuated the area," said Lt.. Craig Richard.

No one was in the building when the bomb exploded and no injuries were sustained. George Leeglass is senior pastor at Grace Church

"It does not scare us at all. We have a great police force in DeRidder and I’m sure they will take care of things in proper fashion," said Leeglass.

But Grace Church wasn’t the only victim. Wednesday night, the Three Pine Apostolic church in DeRidder was burglarized.

"About ten o’clock we received a call about a burglary in progress. Deputies and officers responded. They got a description of the vehicle that had left the scene which was later stopped in the City of DeRidder. We have four suspects in custody ranging ages from 17-21," said Joe Toler.

The four young men are seventeen year old Nathan Lee of Rosepine, twenty-one year old Sidney Fletcher of DeRidder, eighteen year old Timothy Free of DeRidder, and seventeen year old Anthony Martin of Rosepine.

Dan Booth is the pastor of the Three Pine Apostolic Church. He is thankful nothing seriously happened.

"It’s just the day and time we live in. I’m not surprised that anything happens like this, but I guess no place is exempt," said Dan Booth.

After investigators apprehended the suspects, they came into the church with Pastor Booth to find out what else was missing. They came up some stairs and approached a chair with what they thought they saw was a flashlight. As they looked closer, it was a pipe bomb.

"We then called the State Police Emergency Response crew and they came out. They removed it with their auto-motive recovery robot and detonated it on site," said Toler.

DeRidder Police and the Beauregard Sheriff’s Office believes these two incidents are connected. They’re making sure no other churches in the area are involved.

"We have deputies checking the entire exterior at the churches within the area to make sure there isn’t anything suspicious," said Toler.

"We have called in additional personal. We are going to churches and checking that there’s not a device there," said Richard.

Anyone who locates a device associated with a bomb should contact authorities. The four young men suspected in the Three Pine Apostolic Church case are charged with aggravated burglary, theft and manufacture and possession of a bomb. No bonds have been set.

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Category: Church Security

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