Austin po­lice of­fer $50,000 re­ward in pack­age bomb­ings

265 re­ports made on sus­pi­cious items; ter­ror, hate crime links stud­ied

The Dallas Morning News - - State - By JACKIE WANG Austin Bureau­las­ Twit­ter: @jc­ql­nwng

AUSTIN — Austin po­lice are of­fer­ing a $50,000 re­ward for in­for­ma­tion lead­ing to an ar­rest in sev­eral re­cent pack­age bomb in­ci­dents.

Po­lice said in a news con­fer­ence Tues­day that they had fielded 265 phone calls since ask­ing that peo­ple re­port sus­pi­cious pack­ages be­fore han­dling them. An of­fi­cer re­sponded to each call, Chief Brian Man­ley said, and noth­ing dan­ger­ous was found.

Three pack­age bombs have ex­ploded in Austin this month, killing two peo­ple and in­jur­ing three oth­ers. Two of the bombs went off Mon­day. The first, which det­o­nated at 6:45 a.m., killed 17-year-old Draylen Ma­son and in­jured his mother. She re­mained in sta­ble con­di­tion Tues­day.

The sec­ond bomb det­o­nated just be­fore noon, in­jur­ing a 75-year-old His­panic woman, whom Man­ley de­clined to iden­tify. She re­mained in crit­i­cal con­di­tion.

On March 2, a blast killed 39-year-old An­thony Stephan House. His death ini­tially was clas­si­fied as sus­pi­cious, but au­thor­i­ties said Mon­day that it had been re­clas­si­fied as a homi­cide.

Man­ley said Tues­day that he grieved the loss of life.

“We again want to ex­press great con­do­lences to the fam­i­lies who have suf­fered losses in the com­mu­nity,” the chief said. “We will be with them as they go through the heal­ing process.”

Man­ley said that while all the vic­tims were peo­ple of color, the depart­ment hadn’t de­ter­mined if the ex­plo­sions were acts of ter­ror­ism or hate crimes.

Join­ing po­lice in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion are the Texas Depart­ment of Pub­lic Safety, the FBI, the U.S. Postal Ser­vice and the Bureau of Al­co­hol, Tobacco, Firearms and Ex­plo­sives. FBI agent Chris Combs com­mended the Austin po­lice for their work so far. He said the bureau had brought many ex­perts to in­ves­ti­gate the case, in­clud­ing be­hav­ioral pro­fil­ers and bomb techs.

“We want the peo­ple of Austin to know that the full re­sources of the FBI is be­ing brought to bear to help on this, and we will con­tinue to work with our part­ners un­til we get to res­o­lu­tion,” Combs said. “We will be here with the chief and the Austin Po­lice Depart­ment un­til we re­solve this and make sure there are no other ex­plo­sive de­vices in the city.”

Gov. Greg Ab­bott of­fered $15,000 on Mon­day for any in­for­ma­tion lead­ing to an ar­rest in the case, bring­ing to­tal avail­able re­wards to $65,000.

Peo­ple with in­for­ma­tion can call the Austin Po­lice Depart­ment’s Crime Stop­pers line at 512-472-TIPS or the state’s Crime Stop­pers line at 1-800-252-TIPS. Tip­sters also can text the let­ters “DPS”— fol­lowed by the tip — to 274637 (CRIMES).

Ricardo B. Brazziell/austin Amer­i­can-states­man

Au­thor­i­ties worked at the scene of an ex­plo­sion Mon­day in Austin. Two pack­age bombs a few miles apart killed a teenager and wounded two women.

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