Another explosion injures 2 in Austin, Texas; cause unclear

by Garry Watts March 20, 2018, 3:17
Another explosion injures 2 in Austin, Texas; cause unclear

This latest explosive was a "sophisticated" device placed outside and detonated by a tripwire, according to Austin police and The Washington Post, and marks a chilling change in tactics following the three other package bombs that exploded earlier this month, killing two people and injured a third, prompting police to warn on Monday that a "serial bomber" was at large in the Texas capital.

Fear mounted across Texas' capital on Monday after the fourth bombing this month - a blast triggered this time by a almost invisible tripwire, demonstrating what police called a "higher level of sophistication" than the package bombs used in the previous attacks.

Police responded to the fourth explosion Sunday around 8:30 p.m. near the 4800 block of Dawn Song Drive in southwest Austin, where residents of the Travis Country neighborhood were asked to stay indoors until 2 p.m. while experts cleared the area.

Based on preliminary information, officials said there were similarities between the devices used in all four explosions, with the major difference being that trip wire was used in Sunday's bomb. "But instead this was some type of suspicious package that was left on the side of the road, that detonated and injured these two men", Manley said. They were rushed to the hospital and are reported to be in good condition.

Police have received more than 700 calls about suspicious packages since the three parcel bombs, but authorities have not found any that posed a security risk, Manley said.

Police at first suggested the bombings could be hate crimes since the first three bombs involved victims who were black or Hispanic, but the latest attack may have undermined that theory.

Earlier Sunday, police announced a $115,000 reward for information leading to a suspect's arrest - imploring whoever was behind the bombing to surrender. The concert promoter canceled the event, which featured the band The Roots, due to "an overabundance of caution", Manley said.

Police believe they are "now dealing with someone who's using tripwires, shows a higher level of sophistication, a higher level of skill", he said.

"If you have video surveillance on your house, we want to get your video footage so that we can have that analyzed and identify any potential suspicious persons, vehicles, or anything that may be interest to this investigation", he added.

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"There is an army of law enforcement folks on the scene right now", Austin Mayor Steve Adler said on CNN.

Sunday's explosion occurred far from the first three blasts, which happened in separate, suburban neighbourhoods in the eastern part of the city.

Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said today: "We are clearly dealing with what we expect to be a serial bomber at this point". But the victims on Sunday's explosion were two white men, leaving open the question of whether the victims' identities matter to the bombmaker.

Morris, of Tripwire Operations Group, said tripwire type devices are not targeted to any specific type of person.

In the GMA interview, Manley said more than 500 investigators, including 350 Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, continue to chase down every lead, but "at this point we don't have specifics leading us to one suspect".

Mr Manley said: "We are not going to understand that (message) until the suspect or suspects reach out to us to talk to us about what that message was".

"That concern is legitimate and real", Adler said, adding that residents should also be reassured by the massive police response to the attacks.

Police plan to fully investigate the explosion as daylight hits Austin on Monday morning.

. In those cases, the bombs were left in packages on doorsteps.

He then said he wanted to tap into the psyche of the bomber or bombers. The first killed 17-year-old high school senior Draylen Mason.

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