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Bomb responsible for church blast

The First Assembly of God church after the explosion on Sunday   

Authorities have leads, no suspects; call explosion isolated incident

May 25, 1998
Web posted at: 10:13 a.m. EDT (1413 GMT)

In this story:

DANVILLE, Illinois (CNN) -- A bomb placed outside the First Assembly of God Church caused an explosion that ripped through the building during worship services, injuring 33 people, authorities said Monday.

No arrests have been made in the Sunday morning blast but Jerry Singer of the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said investigators have "substantial leads." Neither Singer, nor the church's pastor, Rev. Dennis Rogers, would speculate on who was responsible.

Singer said the bombing was an "isolated incident," meaning he did not believe it was related to a bomb explosion on December 30 that damaged a church in Oakwood, Illinois -- about 15 miles from Danville -- and killed a church volunteer.

An explosion tore a hole in the side of the church   

That blast is still under investigation.

Sunday's explosion tore a hole in the side of the church during a morning service attended by about 300 people. Many of the injured were teen-agers because the explosion was near the church's youth section.

Some injured remain hospitalized

Of those wounded, two girls, ages 14 and 15, were in serious but stable condition with head lacerations at a hospital in Urbana. Six others were listed in fair or stable condition in a Danville hospital. The 25 others were treated and released.

"Evil finds itself in the large cities, the small cities, the villages," said Rogers. "Wherever there is an individual who is willing to respond to that evil, you're going to find it. I don't think there is rhyme nor reason to this."

"My greatest emotion at this point is anger," said Rogers, but "my pastoral, Christian side says I can't do that."

Officer Larry Thomason of the Danville Police Department asked anyone with information to call 217-431-2250.

The Rev. Dennis Rogers' reaction to the bombing (icon 302K/27 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)   

Investigators confirmed the explosion was a bombing because of the extensive damage caused by the blast. "There was debris that flew several hundred feet from the building, which indicates a considerable amount of force," Singer said.

He did not indicate what type of bomb had been used but said evidence from the blast scene would be examined at the ATF crime lab in Maryland.

As Singer, Thomason and Rogers spoke to reporters in the church's parking lot, the pastor praised the bombing's "heroes" -- injured young people who were "more concerned about their fellow youth (group) members than they were about themselves." icon 417K/37 sec. AIFF or WAV sound

Rogers said he was amazed by their lack of anger. "The pastor is going to have to learn from the youth group," he said.


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