The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating a Molotov cocktail attack on a Christian church in Seattle on Thursday, Oct. 18, as a potential hate crime, according to King 5 News.
“The FBI is now involved in the investigation and is working to determine if this was a hate crime,” said Michael Crowe with the news outlet.
On Thursday night, a suspect threw several Molotov cocktails at the Iglesia ni Cristo church in Rainier Valley, Seattle, starting a small fire outside the church. District Minister of the Pacific Northwest Barrington Thompson said “about 250 people” were inside the church during the attack, but no one was injured.
“It seemed like he was doing sloppy work, and thank God he was doing sloppy work,” Thompson said about the perpetrator.
According to a report by the Seattle Police Department, witnesses to the attack “stated a person had thrown lit bottles of an unknown liquid at the building” shortly after 8 p.m., causing “minor damage to the exterior of the church.”
A video from King 5 News shows scorch marks on the church doors and walls, as well as security camera footage of the explosions and ensuing fire.
Thompson emphasized the seriousness of the crime.
“Just the mere fact that the perpetrator had those Molotov cocktails is already a serious crime. The fact that he threw it at a church building is even worse,” Thompson said.
He added that although the attack “saddens” members of the church, they will “not respond in anger.”
“It saddens us,” Thompson said. “However, even though it saddens us, we do not respond in anger. We try our best to respond in a good way to our community, which is what we, we plan to keep on doing.”
The attack apparently did not deter church members from continuing to attend. King 5 News reported that “services continued as scheduled” on Sunday despite the attack.
Iglesia ni Cristo, or “Church of Christ,” is a nondenominational Christian church that was established in the Philippines and has hundreds of branches throughout the world. Its purpose, as defined on its website, is “to serve and worship the Almighty God based on His teachings recorded in the Bible.”
Thompson told King 5 News that “the church has many Filipino members” and “is also growing quickly in Africa and India.”