Governor Greg Abbott has announced a $15,000 reward for information leading to arrests after Austin was rocked by multiple package explosions.
Two people have died since March 2 in the random explosions. A third person is fighting for her life in the hospital.
The first explosion happened at a home early Monday that killed a 17-year-old teen boy and wounded a woman, both of them black.
“One of the residents went out front, and there was a package on the front doorstep,” explained Austin Interim Police Chief Brian Manley. “They brought that package inside the residence. And as they opened that package, both victims were in the kitchen and the package exploded.”
The second explosion Monday in southeast Austin injured a 75-year-old Hispanic woman who is in the hospital in critical condition. A second woman from that address was hospitalized with an unrelated medical issue.
“The victim in this incident came outside of her residence, found a package out front,” Manley said. “She picked up that package. At that point, the explosion the box detonated.”
Authorities say both of Monday's explosions were caused by package bombs that were not delivered by a major mail carrier.
Police Chief Brian Manley said at a news conference Monday that investigators believe the first deadly blast from Monday is linked to a March 2 package bomb that killed a 39-year-old black man in another part of the city.
Manley said that investigators believe the attacks are linked because in each case, the package bombs were left on the victims' front doorsteps and not delivered by a mail service. He said the U.S. Postal Service doesn't have a record of delivering a package to the Austin home where the explosion occurred Monday.
“Based on evidence that we have at this scene as well as the other two scenes where we've had these explosions, this evidence makes us believe that these incidents are related,” Manley said.
The three explosions occurred in different parts of east Austin, which is east of Interstate 35, the highway that divides the city. The east side has historically been more heavily minority and less wealthy than the west side, although that has changed as gentrification has raised home prices and rents throughout the capital.
FBI agents from Dallas are now joining agents from Austin and San Antonio in the investigation. Investigators know the type of explosives used, how the IED devices were put together, packaged and delivered. They believe all of the explosive packages were made by the same person, but they don't know why.
“If you know anything about these attacks, it is imperative that you come forward and that you let us know,” Manley said. “We are having innocent people getting hurt across this community. And it’s important that we come together as a community and solve this.”
Austin officials are urging local residents to not open any delivered packages unless they know the sender.
Investigators trying to determine how the houses were targeted or if the victims are in anyway connected. They are looking into whether race was a factor because all of the victims were minorities. The blasts unfolded just as the city was swelling with visitors to the South By Southwest music festival.
Gov. Gregg Abbott's office is offering a $15,000 reward for info leading to the arrest of the person responsible for the deadly packages. Anyone with info is urged to call Texas Crime Stoppers at 1-800-252-8477.