Police in Austin Aren’t Ruling Out Hate Crimes in Recent Package Bombings That Killed Two People
Over the last two weeks, three packages left on doorsteps in and around Austin, Texas have killed two people and wounded two others, leading to panic throughout the city. All of the victims were people of color, and some of the targets have been linked to prominent members of Austin’s Black community, leading police to say they cannot rule out the possibility of hate crimes.
Of course, people in the city are on edge. The first package bomb went off on March 2, killing Anthony Stephan House, the stepson of prominent Black pastor Freddie Dixon, who previously headed one of the city’s historic Black churches. On Monday, a 17-year-old boy was killed, and his mother was seriously injured in a separate blast. Pastor Dixon told The Washington Post that he was good friends with the grandfather of the boy who was killed Monday, leaving a curious connection to the two incidents.
Also on Monday, a 75-year-old Hispanic woman walked out of her house to pick up what she believed was a package, and according to neighbors, when the package exploded, it literally rocked the community. “It shook my house and it shook my body,” neighbor Isaiah Guerrero told KXAN News.
Guerrero told the station he was in his room when he heard the explosion, which led him to climb up on his roof where he saw police walking up to one of his neighbors’ homes. “From that angle, you could actually see the house that got the package sent to them.” The woman who detonated the package bomb is in critical condition.
All three packages were placed outside of the victim’s homes, made to look like deliveries. CNN reports that neither the United States Postal Service, FedEx, or UPS delivered the packages.
After the first blast that killed House, police in Austin believed the attack to be isolated, but after the events on Monday, they will not rule out a connection as well as the possibility that these crimes are racially motivated.
.@chief_manley advising everyone in Austin to be cautious if they receive a package 📦 and weren't expecting one. If you see something suspicious please dial 9-1-1 so we can send officers out to assist you. #safety #austinpd #atx pic.twitter.com/hA7Tv0bT0E
— Austin Police Dept (@Austin_Police) March 12, 2018
With SXSW just getting underway in the city, Austin police are reminding residents to stay vigilant and be cautious with their packages.
“If you’ve received a package that has been left on your doorstep or left in your yard or left on your driveway that you were not expecting or that was not from someone you know, then give us a call,” the Chief said via social media on Monday.
(photo via Al Henkel/NBC News/Wire)