The local media in Rockford, Illinois, have been virtually silent about a firebomb attack on a Catholic school bus belonging to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Academy. While the details and fuzzy, here’s what we know: There’s extensive damage to a pro-life bus — a vehicle that is widely-known in the community for showcasing messages on its exterior that defend unborn babies and stand in opposition to abortion.
A blog called Pro-life Corner claims that the bus was firebombed on Friday evening (an employee at the Rockford Fire Department confirmed that authorities arrived at the scene around 3 a.m.). In a description of the damage, the blog reports that the attack’s impact was substantial, leaving broken windows, burned and charred seats and a plethora of other major blemishes.
“It has been speculated that this bombing of a pro-life Christian school bus is in retaliation for the closing of the Rockford abortion mill that is located not far from where the school bus was attacked,” the outlet writes.
This, of course, is not confirmed. The Blaze has reached out to Mike Rotolo, the investigator handling the case for the Rockford Fire Department, and is awaiting comment regarding the suspected motivation for the attack.
While Rotolo has not yet been reached, on Monday morning, the Rockford Fire Department confirmed the attack with The Blaze. An employee also said that when authorities arrived at the scene to put out the fire, a bottle was found nearby. This fact, teamed with footage of broken windows and damage inside of the vehicle, seems to corroborate the notion that a firebomb (i.e. molotov cocktail) was employed.
Below, watch a video that showcases, in detail, the extreme damage the bus sustained:
Pro-Life Corner goes on to accuse the Rockford Register Star, a newspaper in the region, of holding an anti-Christian bias, as the story of the firebombed bus was not immediately published by the paper — or by any other local outlets, for that matter. In the newspaper’s defense, the incident occurred early in the morning on Saturday and it may not yet be on reporters’ radar.
The blog also notes that the Rockford Register ironically published new details about a priest who crashed his car into a local abortion clinic 12 years ago on the day before this attack took place. If this attack on a pro-life bus goes unreported, it’s likely that people will see an inherent bias present in the stories the newspaper chooses to report (again, this story was reported before the attack and there is no indication that the Rockford Register won’t be covering the crime).
Interestingly, the newspaper did mention another attack on a local vehicle that occurred on Friday — a suspected arson involving a molotov cocktail. However, there is no indication at this point that the incidents concerning the car and the bus are connected.
The Blaze has reached out to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Academy for comment as well, but we have not yet heard back from administrators. We will report further details as they come in.
Update: Around 12:00 ET, the Rockford Register covered the incident, writing, in part:
Speculation was reported on an anti-abortion website that the fire may have been set as an anti-Catholic message or in retaliation against anti-abortion groups that campaigned to close the Northern Illinois Women’s Center in Rockford, which its owners closed earlier this year citing lack of support from the community, the political climate surrounding the abortion issue and the staffing challenges the clinic faced.
Bageanis said authorities may be able to determine why the fire was set if they can find who is responsible.
Rockford Fire Department investigator Mark Marinaro said there were no messages left at the scene and so far no evidence of a religious or political motivation.
Marinaro also said that although similar to another vehicle fire in the 600 block of North Winnebago Street a day earlier, there is no evidence the incidents are related.
This story has been updated.
All of the images present in this article were captured and published by Pro-Life Corner.