9:40 p.m. update: The stepfather of man who died in a package explosion in Austin earlier this month knew the grandfather of one of the victims in Monday’s first bombing, according to the Washington Post.
Fredie Dixon’s stepson, Anthony Stephan House, 39, died after a package exploded at his house on March 2. Dixon told the Post he is good friends with Norman Mason, the grandfather of the teenager who was killed in a package explosion around 6:45 a.m. Monday in the 4800 block of Oldfort Hill Drive.
“This is a real mystery, and how all of this mystery comes together, I have no idea,” Dixon told the Post.
5:50 p.m. update: The Washington Post has identified one of the people injured in Southeast Austin during Monday’s second package explosion.
Esperanza Herrera is the 75-year-old woman injured in the explosion at the 6700 block of Galindo Street, according to relatives at the scene, the Post reported. They also said her mother, Maria Moreno, suffered minor injuries, the newspaper said.
The incident happened hours after police responded to a previous package explosion at the 4800 block of Oldfort Hill Drive, killing a teenager and injuring a woman, police have said. LaVonne Mason, co-founder of the Austin Area Urban League, told the Post her grandson was the 17-year-old victim killed Monday morning. The newspaper did not name the grandson.
3:20 p.m. update: A 75-year-old woman was injured after picking up an exploding package outside her Southeast Austin home on Monday in the second blast reported in the city and the third similar incident in two weeks, Austin police said.
Interim Police Chief Brian Manley confirmed that evidence suggested that this bombing was related to two previous blasts from “box-type deliveries” that killed a teenager earlier in the day and a 39-year-old man 10 days ago.
Manley warned the public about receiving unexpected or suspicious-looking deliveries in an “average-size delivery box,” but declined to offer more specifics about the packages to protect the integrity of the investigation.
He said the devices can be detonated by moving or by opening the boxes.
“Assigning a motive is not possible at this stage in the investigation,” Manley said, adding that police were willing to investigate any avenue.
“We will leave no stone unturned because we will not allow this to go on in this city,” he said.
The chief said authorities did not have a description of suspects or suspected vehicles.
So it was “imperative that you come forward if you know something,” he said. “We have innocent people being hurt.”
Emergency personnel responded to the 6700 block of Galindo Street on Monday, just five hours after authorities began investigating a package bombing that killed a 17-year-old and seriously injured a woman in her 40s in East Austin, Manley said.
The woman was hospitalized with critical injuries, he said.
Federal investigators with the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the U.S. Postal Service were working with police, Manley said.
“It’s not time to panic, but it is time to be vigilant,” Manley said. “If you see a suspicious package on yours or somebody else’s doorstep, let us know.”
Austin police said “suspicious package” calls spiked drastically Monday.
At 3 p.m., Austin police said they had received 34 “suspicious package” calls since 8:12 a.m. In comparison, last Monday, Austin police received two of those calls.
“I can’t fault people for being careful. … I’m sure that number is likely to grow,” said Tara Long, Austin police spokeswoman.
For example, police responded to a suspicious package call in the 5000 block of Regency Drive, off FM 969. Then, 15 minutes later, police responded to another suspicious package call at Deep Eddy Pool.
These incidents do not appear to be connected to South by Southwest, police said.
Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said his office’s Criminal Justice Division would offer a reward of up to $15,000 for information leading to the arrest of the person or people involved in the package bombs.
“As the investigation continues, the state of Texas will provide any resources necessary to ensure the safety of our citizens, and quickly bring those guilty to justice,” he said in a statement.
The governor’s office said to receive 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.
Earlier: A woman in her 70s was injured in the second reported explosion at a home in Austin on Monday, Austin-Travis County EMS said.
Medics were sent out to the 6700 block of Galindo Street, near Montopolis and East Riverside drives in Southeast Austin at 11:49 a.m., EMS said.
The woman was taken to Dell Seton Medical Center with serious and potentially life-threatening injuries.
Another woman in her 80s was being treated for an unrelated medical issue but was not being hospitalized, EMS said.
The incident marks the second reported explosion in the city on Monday and the third in two weeks.
An explosion earlier in the day in the 4800 block of Oldfort Hill Drive in East Austin killed a 17-year-old and injured a woman described as in her 40s.
Hours after that incident, interim Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said that explosion appeared similar and likely related to another explosion in Northeast Austin on March 2.
Authorities on Monday also warned residents against taking suspicious packages inside their homes.
The incidents are being investigated by police and federal authorities, as a homicide, the chief said.
He also said that investigators were not ruling out the possibility of the explosions being a hate crime because the victims in those cases are African-American.
The U.S. Postal Service told investigators that the packages did not come through their facilities, so the packages were likely left by someone at the doorstep, Manley said.
Manley said authorities know what kind of explosive devices were used, but they are not revealing details in order to preserve the integrity of the investigation.
Manley said people can call 911 if they believe they have received a suspicious or unexpected package left at their homes.
“We will not tolerate this in Austin,” Manley said.
Police did not identify the teenager or the woman and have not released any details about the East Austin package.
In the package explosion on March 2, Austin police responded to a home in the 1100 block of Haverford Drive around 6:55 a.m.
First responders took 39-year-old Anthony Stephan House to a hospital, but he died from his injuries shortly after the blast.
Since then, authorities have not named anyone who may have been involved.
Yasmin Navarro said she lives on Galindo Street in the house across from the one where the explosion happened Monday.
She said she was at work when she got news of the blast. She said she spoke with a friend from California who told her to check on her mother and sister because there had been an explosion at their house.
When she got back to Galindo Street, the road was shut down, and she couldn’t get back to her house.
She said she’s scared because she’s heard of other bombs throughout the city.
“I’m scared for everyone’s safety,” she said in Spanish. “It hurts me a lot that she’s hurt, or that something else is going to happen.