Package bombs are showing up on doorsteps in Austin, Texas, and two African Americans have already been killed, with others injured.
According to Austin police, a woman in Southeast Austin found a package on her doorstep Monday morning and took it inside to her kitchen, where it exploded. The first bombing on March 2 was originally being investigated as a suspicious death, but is now being investigated as a homicide following Monday’s bombing.
Austin Police Chief Brian Manley told local media that while he hasn’t ruled out the two killings as potential hate crimes, there’s currently no clear motive behind the bombings. Because the two package bombs used in the killings were similar, police have said they may have been assembled by the same person or group. The FBI is also joining the Austin Police Department’s efforts to investigate the origin of the package bombs.
“There are similarities, and we cannot rule out that these two incidents are in fact related,” Manley said in a press conference.
On his official Twitter account, Manley urged Austin residents to not open any suspicious packages and to call 911 immediately if they spot an unexpected package on their doorstep. Police also reported that in both instances, packages were delivered overnight and opened in the morning.
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
In November of 2017, FBI Director Christopher Wray said “domestic extremist movements” in the United States would likely be targeting “law enforcement, racial minorities, and the U.S. government” in 2018. The FBI puts white supremacists, so-called “sovereign citizens” who don’t recognize federal laws, radical religious groups, and black nationalists in that category.
As of this writing, no arrests have yet been made in connection with the package bombs in Austin.
Scott Alden is a freelance contributor covering national politics, education, and environmental issues. He is a proud Toledo University graduate, and lives in the suburbs of Detroit.