CHICAGO — A Ukrainian Village church said it has yet again been targeted for attacks as unrest in Ukraine continues, this time with some kind of fireworks that went off just outside the church during Palm Sunday Mass.
An office manager at Sts. Volodymyr and Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church, 739 N. Oakley Blvd., said she was in the downstairs auditorium during Sunday morning Mass when she heard the loud noise some time before 11 a.m.
"It kind of sounded like somebody picked up a pile of lumber and just dropped it," Chrystyna Kosacz said.
Parishioners saw two men running into a nearby alley and chased them but couldn't catch up, said Natalie Kowal, a secretary at the church. Kowal photographed the apparent explosive's aftermath at the church plaza.
The photo, which shows what appears to be white residue, along with the church's description of one of the suspects, was shared by nearly 200 Facebook users as of Monday afternoon.
On its Facebook page, Sts. Volodymyr and Olha described one of the suspects as a white man about 26 years old, 5-foot-6, weighing 160 pounds and wearing a light blue and gray sweater with jeans. According to the church, two devices were placed, but one didn't go off.
"We suspect that it has to do with the situation in Ukraine right now," Kosacz said.
Police responded to the incident and said an "unknown offender" threw a firework at the church while parishioners were around, but there were no injuries.
Officers recovered a firework from the scene, according to Jose Estrada, a Chicago Police Department spokesman. No one was arrested, but Area Central detectives are investigating.
Contrary to what the church said, police maintain no fireworks went off.
It wouldn't be the first time the church said it's been targeted as the result of the crisis in Ukraine.
Days after the February ousting of Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych, parishioners said they returned from Sunday Mass to find nails strewn all over the church parking lot and under cars. Nails were scattered in the parking lot at the adjacent Ukrainian Cultural Center at 2247 W. Chicago Ave., according to the center's manager.
Other Ukrainian Village residents said the country's flags were taken down weeks earlier.
Kosacz and Kowal said some parishioners have been calling the church, worried about attending Easter Mass this weekend. They have been in touch with police and are considering increased security.
"People are scared," Kowal said.