Three Recent Austin Package Bombings Have Resulted In Four Minority Victims; Police Searching For Bomber
Despite the race of the victims, investigators have confirmed they are no longer “making the connection to a hate crime.”
Three separate package bombs have exploded in Austin, Texas this month, and though police are of yet unsure who is sending the packages, they believe the bombs are connected.
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According to WCVB Boston, the one bombing killed a 17-year-old boy and wounded a 40-year-old woman, both of whom are black, this morning. Just before noon, a 75-year-old Latina woman who was left badly injured just as police chief Brian Manley was holding a news conference about the earlier bombing incident.
Earlier in the month, another attack killed a 39-year-old black man, which prompted the police to inform residents to immediately contact the station if they received any unexpected packages.
"That case was being investigated as a suspicious death," Manley said today according ABC News, regarding the March 2 incident. "It is now being reclassified and is now a homicide investigation as well. We are looking at these incidents as being related based on similarities that we have seen and the initial evidence that we have on hand here today compared to what we found on the scene of that explosion that took place a week back."
Authorities now investigating 3 package explosions. 1st reported March 2nd, killed one man. 2nd reported 6:44 this morning, killed a 17 year old boy & injured woman- expected to survive. 3rd reported 11:50 today, woman taken to hospital w/potentially life threatening injuries.— Erin Jones (@ErinJ_KVUE) March 12, 2018
As the victims were minorities, suspicions of a race-related connection quickly arose.
“There are similarities that we cannot rule out that these two items are, in fact, related,” Manley said at the news conference. “We don’t know what the motive behind these may be."
Speaking before the third bombing, the chief said, "We do know that both of the homes that were the recipients of these packages belong to African Americans, so we cannot rule out that hate crime is at the core of this.”
Though investigators aren't ruling anything out so early in the process, Chief Manley confirmed that following the newest attack, they are no longer “making the connection to a hate crime," according to live updates via the Associated Press.
Many took to social media to express their grievances and reactions to the bombing incidents, including the official account of SXSW, the annual festival that is currently occurring in Austin.
My heart goes out to the family of the individual who died & was injured from the explosion on Old Fort Hill Dr. This type of crime will not be tolerated in #ATX. If you receive a package that you are not expecting or looks suspicious, DO NOT open it, call 911 immediately. pic.twitter.com/sJSYQZMziv— Chief Brian Manley (@chief_manley) March 12, 2018
SXSW is heartbroken by the explosions in Austin earlier this month and today. Our thoughts are with the victims and those affected. @Austin_Police are conducting ongoing investigations related to these incidents. Please stay safe, and if you see something, say something. https://t.co/ptMu3fylec— SXSW (@sxsw) March 12, 2018
Texas Governor Greg Abbott is issuing a $15,000 award for information that leads to the arrest of the person or persons involved in the bombings.
“I want to assure all Texans, and especially those in Austin, that local, state and federal law enforcement officials are working diligently to find those responsible for these heinous crimes,” Abbott said.
“It’s not time to panic, but it is time to be vigilant,” Chief Manley said via the Statesman. “If you see a suspicious package on yours or somebody else’s doorstep, let us know.”
The FBI confirmed with ABC News that they are assisting Austin police.
We'll keep you posted on further updates as we receive them.