On Sunday night, police said that Austin, Texas saw its fourth bomb explosion this month. The explosion took place in a residential neighborhood in Travis County, injuring two bikers. The injuries are reported as non-life threatening, as Austin PD shared on their twitter.
According to Austin Police Chief Brian Manley, Sunday’s explosion was most likely triggered by a tripwire. Police said that the previous three explosions were not – they involved suspicious packages delivered to people’s homes, as the Washington Post reported. Those explosions resulted in two injuries and two deaths.
While police haven’t found a clear connection between the bombings, it’s been reported, as New York Magazine noted, that the attacks appear to be targeting prominent black families in the Austin community. Sunday night’s news was alarming enough for the city and state to raise the reward money for bombing-related information to $100,000. Meanwhile, police are warning Austin residents to take extra precautions.
Manley specifically asked residents,” “to have an extra level of vigilance and pay attention to any suspicious device, whether it be a package, a bag, a backpack, anything that looks out of place and do not approach it.”
APD responding to Bomb Hotshot call in the 4800 block of Dawn Song Dr. Two male patients transported with unknown injuries. Please avoid the area. Media staging area is 4635 SW Pkwy, corner of SW Pkwy and Boston Ln. APD PIO
— Austin Police Dept (@Austin_Police) March 19, 2018
He’s also asked the residents in the Travis County neighborhood to give the police time and space as they investigate. They currently suspect a racial motivation, as the bombings are mostly affecting areas heavily populated by people of color. And while the Austin police haven’t officially declared this motivation or any ties between the bombings, experts speculate that they are connected and evolving.
Former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt told NBC News that even if the bombings aren’t connected or racially motivated, the bomber(s) are learning. According to Van Zandt, tripwires are a more sophisticated bomb than packages.
“This is something we see with serial offenders, serial killers, serial bombers, serial arsonists. Unfortunately, they learn as they go,” said Van Zandt. “And they’re wondering what police know so they can change.”
Manley agrees with Van Zandt’s analysis, emphasizing the police’s need for additional information. Until then, the police are providing extra support for the neighborhood by escorting them out of their homes and vigilantly checking for suspicious packages. Although tensions are high after Sunday night’s incident, police maintain that they are able to gather more forensic evidence that can help find the bomber(s).
As for the two injured bikers, officials report that they were taken to a local hospital and treated. The bikers are in good condition. Here’s to hoping that Austin police can solve this scary mystery soon.