Austin pack­age bombs may be linked to an­other deadly at­tack

Of­fi­cials look into race as pos­si­ble fac­tor

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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 city.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors said the bomb­ings are prob­a­bly con­nected, and they are look­ing into whether race was a fac­tor be­cause all of the vic­tims were mi­nori­ties.

The at­tacks un­folded just as the Texas cap­i­tal was swelling with vis­i­tors to the South By South­west mu­sic fes­ti­val.

The first of Mon­day’s at­tacks killed a 17-year-old boy and wounded a 40-year-old woman, both of them black. As Po­lice Chief Brian Man­ley held a news con­fer­ence to dis­cuss that blast, au­thor­i­ties were called to the scene of an­other ex­plo­sion that in­jured a 75-yearold His­panic woman. She was taken to a hos­pi­tal with po­ten­tially life-threat­en­ing wounds.

Au­thor­i­ties sus­pect that both of Mon­day’s blasts were linked to a March 2 at­tack that killed a 39-year-old Black man, and they urged the pub­lic to call po­lice if they re­ceive un­ex­pected pack­ages. The po­lice chief first sug­gested that the blasts could con­sti­tute a hate crime af­ter Mon­day’s first bomb­ing. Fol­low- ing the sec­ond ex­plo­sion hours later, he said au­thor­i­ties had not set­tled on a mo­tive. The ex­plo­sions hap­pened far from the main events of the huge fes­ti­val, which brings about 400,000 vis­i­tors to Austin each year.

In a tweet, or­ga­niz­ers said, “SXSW is heart­bro­ken by the ex­plo­sions in Austin,” and they urged vis­i­tors to stay safe and alert po­lice if they see any sus­pi­cious ac­tiv­ity.

The three ex­plo­sions oc­curred in dif­fer­ent parts of east Austin. Mon­day’s first ex­plo­sion hap­pened at a home in a neigh­bour­hood known as Spring­dale Hills and about 20 kilo­me­tres from the home where the March 2 pack­age bomb killed 39-yearold An­thony Stephan House. His death was ini­tially in­ves­ti­gated as sus­pi­cious but is now viewed as a homi­cide.

Mon­day’s sec­ond ex­plo­sion hap­pened in the Mon­topo­lis neigh­bour­hood, near the air­port and about 5 miles south of the day’s first blast.

In both the March 2 at­tack and Mon­day’s first ex­plo­sion, the pack­ages were left overnight on the vic­tims’ doorsteps and were not mailed or sent by a de­liv­ery ser­vice, Man­ley said.

Nei­ther the Postal Ser­vice nor pri­vate car­ri­ers such as UPS or Fedex have any record of de­liv­er­ing the pack­age to the home where Mon­day’s ex­plo­sion oc­curred.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors said it was pos­si­ble that the vic­tims were tar­geted be­cause of their race.

“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.”

Austin Amer­i­can-states­man/the As­so­ci­ated Press

Of­fi­cials work on the scene af­ter mul­ti­ple ex­plo­sions in Austin on Mon­day. Po­lice are re­spond­ing to an­other ex­plo­sion Mon­day that badly in­jured a woman, hours af­ter a pack­age bomb killed a teenager and wounded a woman in a dif­fer­ent part of the city.

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