Two package bombs left in front of homes in the U.S. state of Texas exploded on Monday, killing a 17-year-old African-American teenager and severely injuring a 75-year-old Latina woman. Police are investigating the attacks as possible hate crimes and have linked the blasts to another deadly package bomb, which killed a 39-year-old Black man at his home earlier this month.
All of the attacks occurred in Austin, Texas' state capital. A cardboard package was left on the porch of all three residences.
Austin Police Chier Brian Manley told reporters the packages exploded after an unwitting victim picked it up or attempted to open it, according to Reuters. “We are looking at these incidents as being related ... We cannot rule out that hate crime is at the core of this, but we are not saying that that is the cause,” he said.
Federal investigators had teamed up with local authorities to help find the suspect and possible motive, Manley noted, warning residents to be vigilant of mysterious packages left on their porch and to report anything suspicious to the police. He said the “box-typed deliveries” were not shipped by any mainstream commercial mailing services.
On March 2, Anthony Stephan House, the stepson of a former pastor at a historic Black church in Austin, was killed when he picked up a package left on his porch. The explosion was so powerful that it blew out walls at the entrance.
The 17-year-old African-American teenager killed in yesterday's package explosion has not been identified. However, his grandmother, LaVonne Mason, co-founder of the Austin Area Urban League, confirmed that it was her grandson who was killed in the explosion. A 40-year-old woman was also injured when the teenager brought the box into the kitchen and attempted to open it.
A second explosion that occurred just four miles away in the working-class Hispanic community of Montopolis, severly injured a 75-year-old latina woman. Brandon Rendon, a neighbor, told Reuters that the elder was in her wheelchair watering her grass just prior to the explosion.