The FBI is investigating whether an explosion that occurred near the Colorado Springs National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Branch was an act of domestic terrorism and officials have raised the possibility of it being a hate crime.
A homemade explosive device was detonated outside the office near a barber shop on Tuesday morning, however; there were no reported injuries and the building sustained minor damages. FBI officials are searching for a person of interest, described as being a balding white male in his 40s who was reportedly seen in the area driving a dirty pickup truck.
In a statement the NAACP, the nation's oldest civil rights organization, said it "looks forward" to a federal investigation.
"No injuries were reported in what is believed to be an explosion near the Colorado Springs NAACP Branch located on the 600 block of S. El Paso St. The cause of the explosion is still unknown," the organization wrote in a statement to The Christian Post. "The NAACP looks forward to a full and thorough investigation into this matter by federal agents and local law enforcement."
The makeshift bomb was detonated near a gasoline canister that failed to ignite.
Social networking site Twitter was rife with speculation about the motive behind the attack, particularly in the wake of ongoing racial unrest. Denver FBI spokeswoman Amy Sanders said Wednesday that authorities have not ruled out the possibility of domestic terrorism.
"Certainly domestic terrorism is one possibility among many others," Sanders said. "We are investigating all potential motives at this time."
Sondra Young, president of the NAACP's Denver chapter, said the incident "certainly raises questions of a potential hate crime."
"But at this point we're still gathering information. It's a very sad situation, but we're happy our people in Colorado Springs are safe," Young said, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force is leading the investigation along with the Colorado Springs Police and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Sen. Kent Lamber (R-Colorado), whose district includes the NAACP office, condemned the attack and vowed to bring those responsible to justice.
"We will track you down, prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law and put you in prison," he said according to Fox News. "We will not tolerate that kind of violence in our society."
This is not the first time an NAACP office has been targeted. In 1989, eight people were left injured when a tear-gas bomb was mailed to the southeastern regional headquarters in Atlanta.
"I am deeply troubled by the bombing in Colorado. It reminds me of another period. These stories cannot be swept under the rug #NAACPBombing," civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia) tweeted.
Henry Allen Jr., the NAACP Colorado Springs chapter president, vowed to continue serving the community.
"We'll move on," he said in a Facebook post. "This won't deter us from doing the job we want to do in the community."