Austin police offer $50,000 reward in package bombings
265 reports made on suspicious items; terror, hate crime links studied
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).
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.