Austin bombings being investigated as potential hate crime

A trio of bombs have also injured another two over the past 10 days.

A series of explosions are being treated as a potential hate crime in Austin. CREDIT: GETTY / ROBERT DAEMMRICH
A series of explosions are being treated as a potential hate crime in Austin. CREDIT: GETTY / ROBERT DAEMMRICH

Police in Austin, Texas say they are treating a series of bomb explosions over the past week as a potential hate crime. The bombings, which have killed two people — including a teenager — and injured two more appear to have targeted minorities, with African American and Hispanic victims. All of the bombs also appear to have been suspicious packages left on the victims’ doorsteps, rather than packages sent through the mail.

The first explosion took place on March 2, killing 39-year-old Anthony Stephan House, who was found on his porch. At the time, Austin police believed the explosion was an isolated incident.

However, two more bombings were reported Monday morning. The first, at approximately 7 a.m. local time, killed a 17-year-old boy and injured a woman, who police said was in her 40s. The woman’s injuries are severe, but, according to Austin police, she is expected to survive. Police added that the explosion took place after the suspicious package was brought into the victims’ kitchen.

The Austin-Travis County EMS Twitter feed reported a second, separate explosion in southeast Austin on Monday. Details remain scarce, but at least one victim, a 75-year-old Hispanic woman, sustained potentially life-threatening injuries.

Austin Police Department told ThinkProgress that there would be an on-site update later on Monday, as well as updates via the Austin Police Department’s Twitter feed.

The FBI has begun aiding in the investigation. Manley has also said that his department knows what type of explosive devices were used, but, as the Austin American Statesmen reported, police are “not revealing details in order to preserve the integrity of the investigation.”

“This type of crime will not be tolerated,” Manley said.

UPDATE: In a Monday afternoon briefing, Manley said that Austin police believe the explosions are “related,” but that it is unclear if the victims were the intended targets of the “box-type deliveries” that exploded. Manley added that they have not yet identified a “specific victimology or ideology” thus far behind the bombings, “so assigning a motive to this at this point is not … possible based on the stage where we’re at in the investigation.” Manley also said it would be a “lengthy investigation” moving forward, and that, in addition to the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives would be aiding in the investigation.