A third explosion has been linked to two other deadly attacks at homes in Texas this month, where police are warning residents not to touch any unexpected boxes that end up on their door steps.
Austin Police Chief Brian Manley confirmed to reporters that the third blast — which followed just hours after an earlier deadly explosion Monday — is suspected of being connected to the recent explosions.
“This, again, is the third in what we believe to be related incidents that have occurred in the past 10 days,” Mr Manley said. “Similar to what we have said in the earlier incidents, we want the community to be aware of what is going on.”
The third blast sent a 75-year-old Hispanic woman to the hospital, while the second blast killed a 17-year-old boy and injured an adult woman who was in the room at the time of the explosion. A previous explosion on March 2 killed a 39-year-old man.
That third explosion was reported at 11.50am Monday while investigators responding to the second attack were still on scene. That second attack was reported at 6.44am on the same day after the 17-year-old boy brought a package into the kitchen from his home’s front steps, detonating the device.
Mr Manley said that residents should not even touch packages that end up on their doorsteps if they are not expected, and said even picking up a package could have deadly consequences.
Officials investigating the incidents did not immediately disclose what types of explosives were used in the attacks, but said that they have not settled on any particular theories about the motivations behind the attack or who it might be. None of the packages were reportedly delivered through standard mail delivery services, Mr Manley said, suggesting that they had all been placed there in-person by the attacker.
🚨If you receive a package that you are not expecting or looks suspicious, DO NOT open it, call 911 immediately. RT- Help us spread this message. 🚨 https://t.co/j9bxbaaBce
— Chief Brian Manley (@chief_manley) March 12, 2018
Briefing regarding explosion on Galindo. https://t.co/gkSSgME0S4
— Austin Police Dept (@Austin_Police) March 12, 2018
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“We are not ruling anything out at this point,” Mr Manley said. “At this point we are willing to investigate any avenue that may be involved behind these attacks. We are imploring the community” to come forward with any information.
Officials stressed that visitors to the city — which is hosting events for the annual South by Southwest film and arts festival — should not be worried, but remain aware of their surroundings.
“It’s important for those that are here for the spring festival to be aware of what’s going on,” he said. “Enjoy yourself, have a good time. There’s no reason to believe that you’re at risk other than be aware”.
All of the victims involved in the three attacks so far have been minorities in the city. The first two attacks targeted households of African Americans, while the third injured a Hispanic woman.
When asked if investigators are considering a potential hate crime, the police chief reiterated that nothing had been ruled out so far.
The Austin Police Department is being helped in its investigation by the FBI, which brought in a second unit following the third attack, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and explosives.
The identities of the victims from Monday’s attacks, which occurred in eastern and southeastern Austin, were not immediately clear. The first victim has been identified as Anthony Stephan House.
The two deaths are being investigated as homicides, Mr Manley said. The first explosion was considered to be a “suspicious death” before the Monday attack forced officials to reconsider the situation.