AUSTIN, Texas — Investigators believe a package bomb that killed a teenager and wounded a woman in Austin on Monday is linked to a similar bombing that killed a man elsewhere in the city this month, and they’re considering whether race was a factor because all of the victims were black.
Shortly after police Chief Brian Manley held a news conference in which he linked the Monday morning attack that killed a 17-year-old boy and injured a woman with a March 2 attack that killed a 39-year-old man, authorities rushed to the scene of another blast that badly injured a woman.
Authorities haven’t said whether the most recent blast was also caused by a package bomb or if the victim, like those killed or injured in the two confirmed bombings, is black. Austin-Travis County EMS tweeted that the woman is in her 70s and was taken to Dell Seton Medical Center with potentially life-threatening injuries.
The explosions happened with hundreds of thousands of visitors in the city for the South by Southwest music, film and technology festival, and authorities urged the public to call the police if they receive any packages they aren’t expecting. The explosions happened far from the festival’s events, and there was no immediate word from organizers about additional safety precautions they were taking.
FBI officers on scene in East Austin, Texas, after a teenager was killed and a woman was injured in a package explosion on Monday, March 12, 2018.
The three explosions occurred in different parts of east Austin. Monday’s first explosion happened at a home near the city’s Windsor Park neighbourhood and about 20 kilometres from the home where the March 2 package bomb killed 39-year-old Anthony Stephan House. The March 2 blast was initially investigated as a suspicious death, but is now viewed as a homicide.
Monday’s second explosion — the cause of which was still being investigated — happened in the Montopolis neighbourhood, which is west of the airport and about eight kilometres south of the day’s first blast.
Manley said investigators believe the March 2 and Monday’s first attack are related. In both cases, the packages were left overnight on the victims’ doorsteps and were not mailed or sent by a delivery service. He said the U.S. Postal Service doesn’t have a record of delivering the package to the home where Monday’s explosion occurred, and that private carriers like UPS and FedEx also indicated that they had none, either.
“There are similarities that we cannot rule out that these two items are, in fact, related,” Manley said.
Manley said investigators haven’t determined a motive for the attacks, but it is possible that the victims could have been targeted because they are black.