LAS CRUCES, N.M. (TheBlaze/AP) — A pair of small explosions just 20 minutes and fewer than four miles apart shocked congregants at two churches in southern New Mexico.
There were no injuries or deaths from the blasts Sunday morning outside Calvary Baptist and Holy Cross Catholic in Las Cruces. Each building sustained minor damage.
"It doesn't appear to be coincidental because of the timing, but you never know," Las Cruces police spokesman Danny Trujillo told The Associated Press.
The Las Cruces Sun-News reported the first explosive device went off at about 8:20 a.m. in a mailbox near Calvary Baptist. According to police, several worshippers were inside the church at the time but services hadn't started.
According to churchgoers, the blast shook the building and there was debris around the damaged mailbox. Las Cruces police Sgt. Robert Gutierrez described seeing "just a lot of paper shreds."
The next blast came from a trash can outside Holy Cross Catholic at about 8:40 a.m. — and during the part of the service when communion is passed.
"I was right in the middle of saying the words 'take and eat, this is my body' and there was a 'Pow'! I mean, I knew it had to be more than a gunshot," Monsignor John Anderson told the Sun-News. "... But it was very loud and I just kept on saying the words."
Services were cancelled for the rest of the day at both churches, and a service at another nearby church apparently was called off in the wake of the blasts:
First Baptist Church in Las Cruces closed after explosions at two other churches. pic.twitter.com/L6iTxuhJZs— Heath Haussamen (@haussamen) August 2, 2015
Authorities are working to determine who planted the explosives and whether the blasts were related. Several agencies including the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and New Mexico State Police are assisting with the investigation.
This story has been updated.
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