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Make-shift bomb explodes in Mexico church mailbox

MEXICO, ME (WGME) -- A mailbox is blown to bits by a homemade bomb. The mailbox belonged to the First Baptist Church in the town of Mexico. Mexico police tell us they have a pretty good idea who did this on the night of the Fourth of July.

Witness Kelly MacFarlane says "There was all kinds of pops going off that whole night. A lot of banging and booming that night." MacFarlane and her children were home the night of the fourth of July, when they heard a loud explosion at 9:30 p.m.

Witness Meredith Prescott says "I heard a boom." Even though the First Baptist Church is right next door, they figured the sound they heard was just a loud fireworks explosion. It wasn't. That sound was a homemade bomb going off.

Witness Russell Prescott says "At first I saw fireworks going off so I thought it was that.  But I never suspected that it was a bomb." It wasn't reported until the next morning, when the pastor discovered that the church mailbox had been blown up.

The force of the blast put a hole right through the metal mailbox. Church trustee chair Steve Dyment says "It actually blew the mailbox off the wall. It was just barely hanging. Took the cover off it and put it like five feet in the air right through the ceiling."

He says "It's no fun and games when people start playing around with explosives." Mexico Police Chief Roy Hodsdon says it could have killed someone. He thinks the only reason the church mailbox was targeted is its dark, isolated, empty parking lot.

Pastor Tony Rea's wife, Karen Rea, says "I just think it was a couple of teenagers going by and pulling a prank or whatever. Fourth of July, you know." Police don't want to disclose what type of explosive device this was, but they did give one detail.

Chief Hodsdon says "We're figuring some type of black powder for the accelerant was used." Hodsdon say he has persons of interest he hope to interview. He says this is the first homemade bomb that's gone off in Mexico. And he hopes it is the last.

Hodsdon says "We're worried that whoever is doing this, if they do it again they could hurt themselves or others." For now, this crime remains under investigation. If you have any information, you're asked to call the Mexico Police Department.

Mexico Police Chief Roy Hodsdon says the crime committed was "criminal use of explosion", a class c felony punishable by up to five years in prison. He says he will push for the maximum sentence, even if the people who did this are teens.