A teenager has been killed and two women injured after two package explosions rocked Austin, Texas, on Monday.
The two explosions come just weeks after a similar blast killed an Austin man just weeks ago. Authorities believe all three explosions are connected.
The suspect or suspects remain at large. Police have not released a description of the suspect(s) or a vehicle.
The first explosion in East Austin killed a 17-year-old at the scene and injured a woman who is believed to be in her 40s. That incident happened at a home located in the 4800 block of Oldfort Hill Drive at 6:45 a.m.
Officials say the teen found the package on the doorstep, took it inside and opened it in the kitchen, where it exploded. Authorities with the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are on the scene.
The home reportedly received “significant” damage from the blast.
Police believe the package was not handled by the U.S. Postal Service or private mail carriers. It was placed on the doorstep in a manner that was similar to another blast this month.
Hours after the first blast, a second package explosion went off.
Medics transported a 75-year-old woman to Dell Seton Medical Center after she retrieved an exploding package outside her home. She has serious and potentially life-threatening injuries, according to the Austin American-Statesman. A woman in her 80s is reportedly being treated for an “unrelated medical issue.”
Emergency responders were dispatched to the 6700 block of Galindo Street in Southeast Austin at 11:49 a.m. local time.
In addition to the two reported explosions Monday, the city saw a third blast in Northeast Austin on March 2 that killed one man. All three explosions involved packages and were located within 16 miles of each other.
Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said the March 2 explosion and the first one Monday appeared similar and are likely related.
“We believe these cases are linked at this time,” Manley said.
Interim @chief_manley: If you receive a package you’re not expecting, CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY! DO NOT OPEN. #Austin Police, FBI & ATF investigating second package explosion today; third this month. pic.twitter.com/povbUztf8a
— Jeff Stensland (@JeffStensland) March 12, 2018
Austin residents are being asked to call 9-1-1 if they receive unexpected packages on their doorsteps. As of Monday evening, police had received at least 34 “suspicious package” calls since around 8 a.m.
Neighbor Cynthia Burdett, who lives near the location of the early blast Monday, told Fox 7 she’s in “total shock” because the situation is “very scary.”
“I checked my house first of all to make sure nothing was on fire, I did look outside at that point and next thing I knew police were knocking at the door saying that there was a suspicious package, one had exploded and that I needed to leave the house,” she said.
Burdett said her neighbors who live in the home that received the explosive package are “church-going people” who are “a very good family.”
The first of the three explosions killed Anthony Stephan House, 39, in the early morning hours on March 2. The blast came from a package on House’s doorstep, which is located about 12 miles away from the location of the first blast Monday. That incident was classified as a homicide.
Chief Manley said the first two blasts happened at the homes of African-Americans so officials “cannot rule out hate crimes.” At this time, there’s no other evidence indicating hate crimes, other than the victims’ race, he said.
Manley later added: “Assigning a motive is not possible at this stage in the investigation. We will leave no stone unturned because we will not allow this to go on in this city.”
Austin police and federal authorities are attempting to rebuild the explosive device that killed House to determine who made the device.
Manley said investigators have figured out what the first device was, but they’re withholding some details “to protect the integrity of the investigation.”
“We will not tolerate this in Austin,” Manley said.
The police chief urged citizens not to panic, but he said: “[It’s] imperative that you come forward if you know something. We have innocent people being hurt.”
The explosions took place just as Austin hosts is South by Southwest music, film and technology festival. Hundreds of thousands of visitors have traveled to the city for the event.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and his office’s Criminal Justice Division are offering up to $15,000 for information leading to arrest of the suspect(s).
To collect the reward, tips must be submitted to Texas Crime Stoppers by:
- Calling Texas Crime Stoppers at 800-252-8477.
- Texting the letters “DPS” and your tip to 274637.
- Submitting a web tip through the Crime Stoppers website.
- Submit a tip through the DPS mobile app.