People are cowering outside their doors in Austin, Texas as four package explosions have gone off in people's homes in the last 10 days. Authorities have asked the public to remain calm but vigilant as the string of explosions seem to be related, an investigation has been launched to find the people responsible.
On Monday the 12th of March, 17-year-old Draylen Mason died after a package exploded in his kitchen also injuring his 40-year-old mother who is currently in hospital in a stable condition. The police said that the package was placed overnight on their front doorstep. A 75-year-old Latino woman suffered a similar horror after she opened a package which exploded leaving emergency services to rush her to a hospital with life-threatening injuries.
Upon investigation into the events, police drew similarities to a package explosion on the 2nd of March that killed a 39-year-old man, Anthony House. The initial investigation was opened as a suspicious death but has since been ruled a homicide. Police suspect that these incidents are related according to early evidence. The police noted that there were superficial connections between both the Mason and house victims who knew each other through church and were heavily involved in the city's black community.
Although Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said: "Our detectives are currently looking at that to evaluate that lead to see if it is, in fact, relevant," police have said they were not ruling out the possibility of a hate crime since two victims were black and one is Latino. "We cannot assign a motive at this point." Nonetheless, Linder said he was warning members of the black community not to pick up suspicious packages. "Right now, there are a lot of coincidences," he told BuzzFeed News. "We just have to be cautious."
Manley urged residents on Monday to be vigilant for any suspicious packages placed outside their homes, noting that whoever was responsible had the ability "to construct a bomb and have it detonate causing loss of life." All of these inferences remain theories for the time being but investigators received over 200 calls regarding suspicious packages but none turned out to be dangerous.
None of these packages were delivered via the US Postal Service or any other registered postal service and just consisted of empty cardboard boxes placed outside their doors. The previous packages detonated only when handled in some way. A couple of hours after Austin police made a public announcement asking the people behind the bombs to come forward, a fourth package detonated on Sunday evening, injuring two men who were cycling through a residential area in the south-west area of the city, further away from the location of the first three explosions. Both of the injured men were mid-twenties white American males who were rushed to hospital but luckily remain in a good condition.
The neighbourhood went into lockdown, leaving residents confined to their houses and calling for a 911 escort if they have to leave whilst the police investigate the rest of the neighbourhood.
The police are maintaining that residents should stay away from any packages and have said that officials understand that whoever is responsible for these packages is a "sophisticated" bomb-maker who is trying to send a message which authorities haven't figured out yet.
Over 500 law enforcement officials are on the case and are pursuing more than 400 leads to put a stop to the bombs before they claim more lives.