Pipe Bomb Found Near Catholic Church in Philadelphia

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
February 21, 2023US News
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Pipe Bomb Found Near Catholic Church in Philadelphia
Police tape cordons off an area to prevent people from entering a potential crime scene. (Mark Makela/Getty Images)

A Philadelphia Police Department bomb disposal team responded to a call about a pipe-bomb that was found near a Catholic church on the northeast end of the city on Sunday (Feb. 19) afternoon.

Members of the Philadelphia Police Department’s 8th District were called to St. Dominic’s Catholic Church on the 8500 block of Frankford Avenue in the Holmesburg section of Philadelphia. In a statement shared with NTD News, PPD spokesperson Eric McLaurin said a passerby had found the device, an 18-inch length of plastic PVC pipe with capped ends and black powder on it, at around 1:39 p.m. local time on Sunday.

McLaurin said police closed down Frankford Avenue from Benson Street to Blakiston Street while members of the Bomb Squad arrived on the scene to remove the bomb. McLaurin said the device was removed from the area and taken back to the bomb squad’s headquarters.

The police spokesperson said the PVC pipe contained an unknown powder. It remains unclear what type of powder was in the device and McLaurin provided no additional details about the incident.

The Philadelphia police did not specify where the investigation stands or whether they’ve identified potential suspects or motives behind the bomb scare.

St. Dominic’s Catholic Church has a neighboring cemetery, as well as an affiliated high school.

Local resident Alan Serge told CBS that it was his neighbor who was the passerby that discovered the pipe bomb.

“My neighbor always takes his dog every day for a walk in the graveyard and he said he seen something that look[ed] like a PVC pipe with two ends on it,” Serge told CBS. “He touched it and he moved it out of the walkway and he said, ‘Oh God that looks like a pipe bomb.’ So, he called 9-1-1.”

The incident has caused Serge to rethink his family’s safety.

“It’s pretty scary if it was a friggin’ pipe bomb. I mean I’m not letting my kids go over there, I know that. That’s for a fact,” Serge told CBS.

Another local resident, Brian Boedecker, shared similar concerns about his family’s safety if they go near the church grounds.

“We used to be okay with like just monitoring them inside, letting them play out here and run in and out of the house, but when stuff like this is going on, hey you never know,” Boedecker told CBS.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia said the bomb was found along the Conrail train tracks, which run behind the church. The explosive device was located about 200 yards from the school building.

Kenneth A. Gavin, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese, said PPD informed the pastor of the Saint Dominic Parish following the incident.

“At the time of the incident school was closed and no members of the school community were on campus. Based on guidance from law enforcement, the school continued on a normal operational schedule today,” Gavin said Tuesday.

Incidents Targeting Churches

According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, there have been at least 248 acts of vandalism targeting property owned by the Catholic church in 42 states and the District of Columbia since May 2020.

Incidents include suspects beheading and cutting the limbs off statues on church property. Property has been smashed, and painted, and gravestones have been defaced with swastikas and anti-Catholic language. Churches have also been targeted by arson, and American flags placed beside gravestones have been burned.

In addition to church property being attacked, pro-life organizations have also been targeted. The acts of arson and vandalism on pro-life organizations, which often hold religious affiliations, have increased since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. According to the Catholic News Agency, there have been 57 attacks on pro-life crisis pregnancy centers since May 2022, yet few of these incidents have resulted in suspects being arrested.

Last month, the House passed a resolution condemning attacks on churches and pro-life organizations. The resolution passed by a vote of 222–209, with three Democratic lawmakers joining the Republican majority in favor of the resolution.

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