Police: Deadly package bombs that killed 2 in Austin are linked, possibly hate crimes

Two people are dead, both African-American and two others seriously injured in the blasts, which could possibly be hate crimes

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Authorities in Austin, Tex., say the three package bomb explosions that killed two people and injured two others within the last two weeks are related and could be hate crimes.

Police officials now believe that the package bomb that killed a teenager and wounded a woman on Monday is linked to a similar attack that killed a man in another part of the city earlier this month. The man and the teenage victim of the explosions are Black and the woman is Hispanic, and investigators have not ruled out the possibility that the incidents were racially motivated.

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The first incident occurred on March 2, killing Anthony Stephan House, 39, after a package exploded at his home. His death is being investigated as a homicide.

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This week’s attacks killed a 17-year-old boy in an early Monday morning blast as he handled the package. A woman in her 40s was also caught in the explosion and hospitalized with serious injuries. Later that day, a 75-year-old woman was injured in a separate incident when she did the same. She was reported to be in critical condition with life-threatening injuries.

At a press conference Austin Police Chief Brian Manley told reporters that in each of the cases, the packages were left overnight on the victims’ doorsteps and were not mailed or sent by a delivery service. The U.S. Postal Service confirmed to investigators that the packages did not come through their facilities, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

“We do not have a specific victimology or ideology that we have identified,” said Manley. “So assigning a motive to this at this point…is not possible to do that based on the state that we’re at in the investigation.

It is not clear whether or not the victims were the intended recipients of the explosive packages, but earlier Monday, prior to the third explosion, Manley said he is not limiting the scope of the investigation.

“We don’t know what the motive behind these may be,” he said. “We do know that both of the homes that were the recipients of these packages belong to African-Americans, so we cannot rule out that hate crime is at the core of this. But we’re not saying that that’s the cause as well.”

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Because two of the explosions took place on Monday, as thousands of visitors descended onto the city for the SXSW music, film and technology festival, authorities are urging residents to call the police if they receive any suspicious packages.

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