School evacuation over suspicious circumstances

Photo by Kyle Swearingen

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in partnership with Beaumont Police Department (BPD) and Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) are investigating suspicious circumstances involving damage to the church office building of Saint Stephen's Episcopal Church in the 4000 block of Delaware, apparently the result of a small explosion, which necessitated the evacuation of students at All Saints' School located on the church campus.

According to Officer Haley Morrow, a Beaumont police officer responded to a call of criminal mischief at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church on the morning of Thursday, May 10. Once the officer arrived, they saw what appeared to be a previously detonated package that cause minor damage to a building on the property. 

In a statement from the church, Rev. Steven M. Balke Jr. assured the community that no one was hurt in the explosion.

“Sometime between last night and this morning a package bomb was detonated outside the church office building,” said Balke. “No one was on the campus at the time and no one was hurt by this explosion. Thanks be to God.”

Officer Morrow also explained that parents with students who have children attending All Saints' School have been notified by the school and have been given instructions to pick their children up from the French Road entrance. Beaumont Police Department is following standard protocols and procedures involving the initial reported call of criminal mischief.

“I have spoken with the Rev. Steven Balke, rector of the congregation, who noticed damage to the area when he arrived at the church this morning. I give thanks to God that no one was hurt in this incident,” said The Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle, IX Bishop of Texas, “The FBI is on scene and is currently investigating what happened as there was a similar event at a Beaumont Starbucks on April 27.”

Doyle also mentioned that Bishop Monterroso, Carol Barnwell, director of communications, the Rev. Canon Joann Saylors and Bishop Fisher will be in Beaumont by May 11 to support church leaders, the congregation and the community.

All Saints’ Episcopal School has been evacuated, and the church and the school will remain closed until further notice.

BPD encourages citizens to remeber the See Something, Say Something Campaign. If citizens see anything suspicous or out of place, they are not to touch it. Theya re to keep a safe distance and call 911.

If anyone has information related to this investigation, please call the FBI at (713) 693-5000.