NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (AP) — A large gas grill exploded Monday outside a central Indiana church, killing a man operating the barbecue at the time, authorities said.
The explosion at Grace Community Church in Noblesville was felt by others preparing for a cookout, Police Lt. Bruce Barnes said. The cause of the blast was not immediately known.
“We’re still looking into the reasons as to why. We’re not going to have the answers today, tomorrow or maybe even the weeks to come,” Barnes said.
Police identified the victim Monday night as Doug Gripp, 52, of Carmel, Indiana.
Senior Pastor Dave Rodriguez said the victim was a “very beloved volunteer” in the men’s ministry.
“We’re in shock,” Rodriguez said.
The pastor described the grill as being larger than ones typically found at homes. He said it was owned by a member of the congregation.
The church draws about 5,000 worshippers each week, he said. Noblesville is about 20 miles northeast of Indianapolis.
About 400 men were expected to attend the cookout, which was canceled after the explosion, Rodriguez said.
It was the second tragedy to rock a central Indiana church in less than a month. A bus owned by Colonial Hills Baptist Church in Indianapolis crashed exiting a highway July 27, killing a youth pastor, his wife and a third member of that congregation.