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Race may be factor in bombings

  • Officials work on the scene after multiple explosions in Austin, Texas, on Monday. Police responded to an explosion that badly injured a woman, hours after a bomb killed a teenager and wounded a woman in a different part of the city. AP

  • Authorities speak to the media after multiple explosions in Austin on Monday, March 12, 2018. 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. (Ricardo B. Brazziell/Austin American-Statesman via AP) RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL

  • Authorities investigate an explosion at a home in Austin, Texas, Monday, March 12, 2018. Investigators believe the fatal explosion on Monday is linked to another deadly bombing elsewhere in the city this month, and they're considering whether race was a factor because all of the victims were black. (Ricardo B. Brazziell/Austin American-Statesman via AP) RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL

  • Authorities investigate the scene after multiple explosions in Austin on Monday, March 12, 2018. 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. (Ricardo B. Brazziell/Austin American-Statesman via AP) RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL

  • Authorities are investigating the scene in East Austin, Texas, after a teenager was killed and a woman was injured in the second Austin package explosion in the past two weeks Monday, March 12, 2018. Authorities say a package that exploded inside of an Austin home on Monday is believed to be linked to a deadly package sent to another home in Texas' capital city earlier this month. (Ricardo B. Brazziell/Austin American-Statesman via AP) RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL



Associated Press
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.

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 blasts unfolded just as the city 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 attack, authorities were called to the scene of another explosion that injured a 75-year-old Hispanic woman. She was taken to a hospital with potentially life-threatening wounds.

Authorities suspect that both of Monday’s explosions 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 any unexpected packages.

“This is the third in what we believe to be related incidents over the past 10 days,” Manley said while briefing reporters near the site of Monday’s second explosion. He at first suggested that the blasts could constitute a hate crime, but later amended that to say authorities had not settled on a motive and could not rule anything out.

“We are not ruling anything out at this point,” said Manley, who said the intended targets were not clear since multiple people live in the homes where explosives were placed. “We are willing to investigate any avenue that may be involved.”

The police chief refused to provide many details about the explosives, citing the ongoing investigation. But he said they were an “average size letter box” and “not particularly large.” In all three cases, he said, the packages did not appear to have gone through the U.S. Postal Service or private carriers like UPS but were left on doorsteps without a knock or ringing of doorbells.

The explosions happened far from the main events of the wildly popular festival known as SXSW, which brings about 400,000 visitors to Austin each year. The police chief urged visitors to “be aware of what’s going on.”

The three explosions occurred in different parts of east Austin. Monday’s first blast happened at a home in Springdale Hills, a leafy neighborhood of houses mostly from the 1960s and 1970s. After the attack, officials in hazardous materials suits came and went regularly.

That was about 12 miles from the home where the March 2 package bomb killed 39-year-old Anthony Stephan House. House’s death was initially investigated as suspicious but is now viewed as a homicide.

The day’s second explosion occurred around the Montopolis neighborhood, about 5 miles south of the day’s first blast.