A day after an improvised explosive was detonated outside the Colorado Springs, Colo., NAACP office, local leaders condemned what some believe is a possible hate crime.

“This certainly raises questions of a potential hate crime,” said Sondra Young, president of the Denver chapter of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People. “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.”

Authorities are looking for a man who may have information about a homemade explosive that someone set off near the Colorado Springs chapter of the NAACP.

The blast happened Tuesday outside a barber shop that's next door to the group's office, which is about an hour south of Denver. There were no injuries and only minor damage, police said.

An improvised explosive device was detonated against the building, but it was too soon to know whether the nation's oldest civil rights organization was the target, FBI spokeswoman Amy Sanders said. The agency sent members of its Joint Terrorism Task Force to help investigate.

Sanders said investigators were looking for a balding white man in his 40s who may be driving a dirty pickup truck. It could have an open tailgate or a missing or covered license plate.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is also investigating the explosion, according to Christopher Amon, acting spokesman for the agency's Denver office.

Phone calls to the Colorado Springs NAACP office were not immediately returned Wednesday morning.

The Colorado Springs chapter, housed in a single-story building, is among the largest in Colorado. In past weeks the organization has taken part in local protests related to the deaths of unarmed black men last year in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City.

Gene Southerland, the owner of Mr. G’s barbershop, said he rushed outside Tuesday morning after hearing the explosion. He reopened on Wednesday and said police had left the scene. The sidewalk and the NAACP headquarters building, which also houses a barbershop, suffered minor damage, Sanders said.

Residents living nearby said they heard a single, loud "boom" but saw no fire. One neighbor, Gregory Alan Johnson, said he was unaware of prior problems near the NAACP's office. The organization shares the building with the barber shop, whose customers are predominantly black.

Chapter President Henry Allen Jr. told The Colorado Springs Gazette the blast was strong enough to knock items off the walls. He said he was hesitant to call the explosion a hate crime without more information but said the organization will move on.

"This won't deter us from doing the job we want to do in the community," Allen said.

The organization's national office issued a statement saying it was looking forward to a full and thorough investigation.

Associated Press and Los Angeles Times contributed

Colorado explosion could be a hate crime,

NAACP official says




NAACP says bomb was targeted at them

“This certainly raises questions of a potential hate crime,” said Sondra Young, president of the Denver chapter of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People. “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.”

The device was detonated against the exterior wall of the NAACP building on South El Paso Street on Tuesday morning. No one was injured, said Amy Sanders, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Denver.

A gasoline can had been placed near the device but did not ignite during the explosion, Sanders said.

On Wednesday, Sanders said she could not comment on the contents of the device, but said the FBI is exploring a wide range of motives, including the possibility that the NAACP building was not the target of the attack.

"It has also not yet been determined if the motive was a hate crime, domestic terrorism, a personal act of violence against a specific individual, or other motive as there are numerous individuals and entities tied to the building in the vicinity of the explosion," Sanders said in an e-mail to The Times.

The sidewalk and the NAACP headquarters building, which also houses a barbershop, suffered minor damage, she said.

The FBI and the Colorado Springs Police Department were investigating. A man described as being about 40 is a person of interest in the investigation. He may be driving a 2000 or older dirty white pickup truck with paneling, a dark-colored bed liner, an open tailgate and a missing or covered license plate.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is also investigating the explosion, according to Christopher Amon, acting spokesman for the agency's Denver office.

Phone calls to the Colorado Springs NAACP office were not immediately returned Wednesday morning.

The Colorado Springs chapter, housed in a single-story building, is among the largest in Colorado. In past weeks the organization has taken part in local protests related to the deaths of unarmed black men last year in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City.

Gene Southerland, the owner of Mr. G’s barbershop, said he rushed outside Tuesday morning after hearing the explosion. He reopened on Wednesday and said police had left the scene.

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Investigators trying to determine if explosion outside Colorado NAACP was deliberate