Update II: In a midday press conference at the White House, President Donald Trump declared that whoever is behind the bombings in Texas is a “sick individual” while promising that state, local and federal law enforcement agencies are working diligently to find the perpetrator.
— FOX 4 NEWS (@FOX4) March 20, 2018
Buzzfeed reported that the package that exploded at the FedEx center in Schertz early Tuesday wasn’t the target – and neither was any FedEx facility, according to Schertz Police Chief Michael Hansen.
The bomb, which exploded while traveling along a conveyor belt, didn’t cause any serious injuries, though one employee complained of ringing in their ears, was treated, and released.
Investigators believe the package originated at a FedEx facility in Sunset Valley, local police told KVUE.com.
Meanwhile, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton revealed that police discovered a second parcel bomb that didn’t explode at the FedEx facility in Hertz. San Antonio police Chief William McManus told a news conference there that the second package was no longer at the facility. Paxton added that the package that exploded had been sent from Austin, and was on its way to a home in Austin, according to the Associated Press. No details about the specific address were provided. Authorities believe five bombings in the Austin area over the past month are linked.
FBI spokeswoman Michelle Lee said Tuesday that “it would be silly for us not to admit that we suspect it’s related” to the four Austin bombings that have killed two people and injured four others since March 2.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz told reporters that the bombings appear to be “coordinated acts of terror.”
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Update: FedEx has discovered a suspicious package at a different facility in Austin, according to media reports. The package is being investigated.
Meanwhile, a former FBI official responsible for catching the “Unabomber” appeared on “Fox & Friends” Tuesday morning and said the FedEx bomb was a “game changer” in the bombing case.
“For all of these bombs to be delivered between March 2 and now is extraordinary, and that may indicate there are more to come.” This is a game changer if they conclude the FedEx package is connected to those other bombs.
However, Terry Turchie, former deputy assistant director of the FBI’s Counterterror Division, said he’s optimistic that federal agents should be able to trace the provenance of the package.
“Agents will scour the area and they’re going to figure out where that package was dropped into the mail stream. That very well could lead to the bomber.”
“Any little piece of information could help bring all of this together.”
It took authorities 18 years to catch the Unabomber.
Watch the full interview below:
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Update: Following the fifth bombing in less than three weeks, Austin police – as well as federal agents with the FBI and ATF – are no closer to solving the mystery of who is sending these bombs, and why?
After initially entertaining the theory that the bombings could be racially motivated, a more racially diverse victim base in recent attacks has discounted this theory. In each bombing, the weapons have been loaded with nails and shrapnel. Domestic terrorism has also been discussed as a motive, according to the Associated Press.
As an aside, the AP also clarified that it was unable to confirm reports that one FedEx employee had been injured in Tuesday morning’s blast.
While the first three bombings all occurred east of Interstate 35, a section of town that tends to be more heavily minority and less affluent, Sunday’s was west of the highway. The differences in where the blasts have occurred, the lack of a motive and other unknowns make it harder to draw conclusions about a possible pattern, further unnerving a city on edge.
Fred Milanowski, an ATF agent who’s working the case, said investigators have followed up on more than 500 leads. Police have asked anybody with surveillance cameras at nearby homes to come forward with their footage, hoping that one of the cameras might’ve captured something suspicious.
With students preparing to return to Austin following Spring Break, police are telling residents to be extra cautious.
Meanwhile, the PGA’s Dell Technologies Match Play tournament is scheduled to begin in Austin on Wednesday, bringing dozens of the world’s best golfers to the state capitol.
“I’m pretty sure the tour has enough security to keep things safe in here. But this is scary what’s happening,” said golfer Jhonattan Vegas, already in town.
But after five bombings in the span of five weeks, investigators have no solid leads.
That should be incredibly concerning to all residents of the Austin area.
As CBS points out, investigators are worried that whoever is behind these bombings has gone from “targeting a specific individual” to “I just want to kill someone.”
“That’s concerning,” said Clint McNear, a former Garland detective who now operates McNear Consulting.
The shift from a bomb triggered by motion to a tripwire shows sophistication, according to McNear.
“They’ve done it repeatedly without harming themselves, they’re displaying that they have some knowledge,” said McNear.
Having built and transported at least four bombs, McNear believes it is likely not someone who is learning as they go.
“My mind was racing this morning. Is it a former oil-field worker that’s extremely familiar with explosive devices?” questioned McNear. “Is it a former military EOD? Former fire/police officer that’s got training in bombs?”
But while the investigation is ongoing, McNear warned the public not to panic.
“I would beg the public to not panic, to be prepared, not paranoid and if you see something, you have to report it,” said McNear.
Right now, investigators’ best hope is that the bomber accidentally detonates their next device during assembly, killing them.
“I hope he inadvertently becomes a suicide bomber in his garage trying to build his next device because he certainly is a dangerous person,” said McNear.
But considering their ostensible level of sophistication, this outcome seems unlikely.
For now, police have little choice but to wait and see what comes…
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In a disturbing development, a package believed to be headed for Austin, Texas exploded at a FedEx facility in Schertz, Texas – a suburb of San Antonio that’s roughly a 60 mile drive from the state capitol, the Washington Post reported.
The FBI told CBS that it’s “more than possible” the blast is linked to the recent ones in Austin before law enforcement sources confirmed it.
— Ashley Sutton (@AshSuttonSA) March 20, 2018
The explosion occurred at around 12:30 am Tuesday morning (local time). The bomb, which contained nails and shrapnel, wounded at least one woman, FBI Special Agent Michelle Lee told reporters.
Work at the facility, which was staffed by 75 people, has ground to a halt as the FBI and ATF arrived on the scene. A local CBS affiliate received a call from one woman whose husband works at the facility. She told the station that he was not being allowed to leave.
Of the 75 people working at the facility, only one complained of injury described as a non life threatening percussion type injury.
All inbound and outbound packages are in limbo, and transport vehicles are in gridlock. At this hour, ATF and FBI assets are beginning to arrive.
— sanantonioFIRE (@saFIREorg) March 20, 2018
Since March 2, five explosions (including Tuesday morning’s blast) have rocked the Austin area. Police have warned the public that the incidents appear to be linked, and that they are “currently dealing with a serial bomber”.
In addition to the two men who were wounded after Sunday night’s explosion, two black men have been killed and an elderly Hispanic woman has been wounded. Police say they haven’t ruled out the possibility that the attacks – which began on March 2 – were racially motivated. The first three bombs were left on doorsteps. But Sunday’s explosion in Austin was likely triggered by a tripwire, which suggests that the suspects have a higher level of sophistication than police had initially believed. So far, there’s not enough evidence for police to classify the incidents as terrorism or hate crimes.
“We don’t know what the motive behind these may be. We do know that both of the homes that were the recipients of these packages belonged to African Americans, so we cannot rule out that hate crime is at the core of this,” said Austin Police Chief Brian Manley.
Authorities don’t appear to have any leads in a case that’s looking suspiciously like the infamous “unabomber” case from the 1990s.