AUSTIN, TEXAS — Someone is sending packaged bombs to minority residents. Yet, this hasn’t made nationwide news for some reason. What’s really going on?
According to WSB-TV, two package bombs were placed a few miles apart, on Monday, March 12. The blasts killed a teenager and wounded two women.
This happened less than two weeks after a similar attack left one man dead in the same city, on March 2.
The source reports that investigators suggest the bombings are connected. For now, they’re looking into whether race was a factor since all of the victims have been minorities.
WSB-TV states that the explosions occurred just as the city was “swelling with visitors” to the South By Southwest music festival.
According to the source, the first attacks killed a 17-year-old boy as well as wounded a 40-year-old woman — reportedly, both Black.
After the incident, Police Chief Brian Manley held a news conference to discuss the attack. Likewise, authorities were called to the scene of another explosion — this time, a 75-year-old Hispanic woman.
Upon recovery, she was taken to a hospital; reportedly, she sustained potentially life-threatening wounds.
Right now, authorities suspect that both of March 12’s explosions were linked to the aforementioned attack that killed a 39-year-old Black man.
The source notes that all three blasts happened as the packages were opened.
“This is the third in what we believe to be related incidents over the past 10 days,” Manley briefs reporters near the site of Monday’s second explosion.
At first, Manley hinted that the blasts could constitute a hate crime, but later amended that to say authorities hadn’t settled on such a motive yet.
He mentioned that they couldn’t exactly pinpoint it because several people live in the residences that were targeted.
Manley continued as follows.
“We are not ruling anything out at this point. We are willing to investigate any avenue that may be involved.”
As far as specific details regarding the bombs’ compositions and packaging, Manley refused to provide those particular details — simply citing the situation as an ongoing investigation.
Nevertheless, he did mention them as “average-size letter box” and “not particularly large,” according to WSB-TV.
NO MAIL CARRIER
According to Manley, in all three cases, none of the packages appeared to come through the U.S. Postal Service or private carriers.
Simply, they were left on doorsteps without a knock or doorbell ring.
Essentially, as aforementioned, the explosions happened far from the main events at SXSW; this is lucky because, as states WSB-TV, the music festival annually brings around 400,000 visitors to Austin.
As a word of caution, the police chief warned as follows.
“Enjoy yourself. Have a good time. There’s no reason to believe that you are at any greater risk other than be aware, look for things that are suspicious.”
The source mentions that festival organizers tweeted that “SXSW is heartbroken by the explosions in Austin,” and they urged visitors to stay safe.
Likewise, Governor Greg Abbott offered a $15,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
In an elaboration on the city’s layout, WSB-TV details the three explosions’ locations in east Austin.
The source states that they were all located east of Interstate 35, the highway that divides the city. Primarily, the east side has historically been more “heavily minority” and “less wealthy,” according to the report.
However, the west side — while it has changed due to gentrification raising home prices and rents throughout the capital — is pretty much the opposite now.
Specifically, March 12’s first blast happened at a home in Springdale Hills; it’s a neighborhood comprised of mostly 1960s and 1970s styled homes. After the attack, officials in hazmat suits were in and out throughout the rest of the day.
This was approximately 12 miles from the home where the March 2 package bomb killed 39-year-old Anthony Stephan House.
The source reports House’s death as “suspicious.” At least, that’s how it was initially investigated by authorities. However, it’s now viewed as a homicide.
As for Monday’s second explosion, it occurred around the Montopolis neighborhood, nearly 5 miles south from the location of first blast.
Joanna Samarripa said she saw a woman in the doorway of the home after rushing over moments after the explosion.
“The cops were running and telling everyone ‘Get out of the house! Get out of the house!’ I’m still scared. I’m still shaking. I don’t even want to leave my daughter no more.”
According to neighbor Keith Reynolds, it sounded like a propane explosion. When he rushed outside, he claims to have seen a cloud of hazy smoke and others on his street running to help.
“There was a horrible screaming. You knew that something terrible was happening,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds adds that the victim’s body was “riddled with holes” as emergency responders took her out of the house and into an ambulance.
“It’s just a regular family neighborhood. It’s just a grandmother, you know what I mean? Like, why?”
Overall, WSB-TV reports that FBI teams from Austin, San Antonio and Dallas were investigating the situation, same for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Note: Police Chief Manley said, if anyone unexpectedly receives a package, call 911.
“Under no circumstances should you touch them, move them, or handle them in any way,” Manley elaborates.
The source says Monday’s blasts victims weren’t immediately identified.
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[Featured Photo via @Circa / Twitter]