After the New Year’s Day suicide bombing of a Coptic Church in Egypt, which killed 21 worshippers, extra security precautions were in place at area churches for last night’s Coptic Christmas Eve service.
According to Thomas Fennelly, chief assistant prosecutor for Essex County and counter-terrorism coordinator, increased safety measures involving multi-agency deployment in various locations, including St. Mark Archdiocese in Cedar Grove, were put in place for last night’s Coptic Christmas Eve service. Fennelly says a helicopter and assorted ground vehicles at 5 Woodstone Drive last night were part of an initiative in response to national and international intelligence. He adds that the services at the church went off without incident.
Baristanet readers emailed tips like this one at 8:01 p.m.
“Tons of police activity at the top of Bradford Ave near Woodstone Drive. Essex County Sheriff’s have road blocked and huge portable lights. Helicopter circling the area.”
Another, at 10:03 said:
There have been helicopters circling over the vicinity of Watchung Avenue and Upper Mountain Ave in Montclair for several hours now — not sure what is going on, but it seems like something is — it was going on when we got home at 7:30 this evening and still continues now just after 10pm…
Today, on Coptic Christmas, no one at the Archdiocese, where His Grace David, the general bishop of the Archdiocese of North America is based, was available for comment. On their web site, a message of mourning over last Saturday’s bombing:
We share in sadness of Coptic and Christians worldwide for the murder of innocent Copts at the church of the Saints in Alexandria Egypt. We pray for the repose of their souls and for the healing to the injured. We pray for the peace of Christians in Egypt.
A Belleville church also had extra security protection for last night’s area Orthodox Christians.