Police in Austin, TX are investigating a series of package explosions that have killed at least two people and critically injured others over the course of ten days.
Given that the first two homes targeted so far belong to African Americans, investigators are also exploring the possibility the attacks could be considered hate crimes.
“We don’t know what the motive behind these may be,” Austin Police Chief Brian 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.”
My heart goes out to the family of the individual who died & was injured from the explosion on Old Fort Hill Dr. This type of crime will not be tolerated in #ATX. If you receive a package that you are not expecting or looks suspicious, DO NOT open it, call 911 immediately. pic.twitter.com/sJSYQZMziv
— Chief Brian Manley (@chief_manley) March 12, 2018
The first explosion on Monday morning killed a 17-year-old boy and injured his mother, in her 40s, after an unexpected package showed up at their home. The victims found the package outside their door and opened it in the kitchen, where it detonated. Several hours later, Austin police responded to a similar home explosion, where a Hispanic woman in her 70s sustained life-threatening injuries. The residences where the explosions happened are located around five miles apart.
Anthony Stephan House, 39, was killed on March 2 when a package that had been delivered overnight exploded at his northeast Austin home. Police have said the Monday explosions — particularly the first one — showed similarities to the one that killed House.
Briefing regarding explosion on Galindo. https://t.co/gkSSgME0S4
— Austin Police Dept (@Austin_Police) March 12, 2018
Authorities believe that the detonations appear to be connected and the deaths are being treated as homicides.
The U.S. Postal Service, FedEx and UPS do not have any records of delivering the packages and Austin officials have warned the public not to pick up or open any suspicious packages they weren’t expecting.
Be aware of suspicious packages and call 9-1-1 if you receive something you weren’t expecting, from an unknown source, or that is mislabeled. Do NOT handle the package. Call 9-1-1 and Austin Police will respond to investigate. pic.twitter.com/TPNMsY6gQl
— Austin Texas (@austintexasgov) March 12, 2018
In addition to local law enforcement, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are investigating the detonations.
Though the South by Southwest Festival began Friday in Austin, the explosions were not in the same area as the festival.