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Police: Deadly package bombs in Austin are linked

WILL WEISSERT and DAVID WARREN | 3/19/2018, 10:30 a.m.
Investigators believe a package bomb that killed a teenager and wounded a woman in Austin Monday is linked to a ...
Authorities work on the scene of an explosion in Austin on Monday, March 12, 2018. Two package bomb blasts a few miles apart killed a teenager and wounded two women in Austin on Monday, less than two weeks after a similar attack left a man dead in another part of the Texas capital. ( via AP) Ricardo B. Brazziell of Austin American-Statesman

AUSTIN (AP) – Investigators believe a package bomb that killed a teenager and wounded a woman in Austin 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.

The explosion happened inside of a home near the Windsor Park neighborhood, killing a 17-year-old male and badly wounding a woman who is expected to survive, Austin’s police Chief Brian Manley stated.

Shortly after the news conference ended, police were called to another explosion in a different part of east Austin. Austin-Travis County EMS tweeted that the later blast left a woman in her 70s with potentially life-threatening injuries, and that a second woman in her 80s was being treated for an unrelated medical issue.

The explosions happened with hundreds of thousands of visitors in the city for the South by Southwest music, film and technology festival.

Authorities urged the public to call the police if they receive any packages they aren’t expecting.

The Monday explosion occured about 12 miles from the home where a March 2 package bombing killed 39-year-old Anthony Stephan House – which was initially investigated as a suspicious death, but is now viewed as a homicide.

Manley said investigators believe the deadly attacks are related, as in both cases, the packages were left overnight on the victims’ doorsteps. He said the U.S. Postal Service doesn’t have a record of delivering the package to the East Austin home where Monday’s explosion occurred, and that private carriers like UPS and FedEx also indicated that they didn’t either.

“There are similarities that we cannot rule out that these two items are, in fact, related,” Manley said, stating that investigators haven’t determined a motive for the attacks, but thought it might be possible that the victims could have been targeted because they are Black.

“We don’t know what the motive behind these may be,” Manley 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. But we’re not saying that that’s the cause as well.”

For now, authorities are more focused on the mechanics of the bomb at this time, hoping to get a better lead.

Special Agent Michelle Lee, a San Antonio-based spokesman for the FBI, said the agency “responded to both events” and was assisting Austin police, which were taking the lead on investigating. She said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was taking the lead on the federal investigation.