The Austin Explosion Victims Have Texas Police Looking Into Whether The Bombings Are Hate Crimes
While the most recent bomb to go off in Austin, Texas, was merely placed by the side of a road, the first three bombs in a frightening series of explosions appeared to have been packaged for specific targets. While authorities are still learning more about the case, it's clear that the Austin explosion victims had a few things in common.
The two men injured in the fourth and latest bombing on Sunday are being treated at an area hospital for their injuries. While they have not been identified, reports say that they will be expected to fully recover from their injuries. The previous bombs, however, had more dire effects. The first package bombing killed Anthony Stephan House, a 39-year-old black man and father who was living in north Austin, on March 2. The package was left at his house, and it detonated when he picked it up.
The second bombing happened on March 12 and took the life of Draylen Mason, a 17-year-old who was a talented musician, an aspiring physician, and also black. That bomb went off in the same way as the previous one — it was left on the doorstep of Mason's house, and it exploded when opened. The same blast that killed Mason also injured his mother.
The third bomb went off at midday on the same day, seriously injuring Esperanza Herrera, a 75 year-old Hispanic woman, who is currently being treated for her injuries in the hospital. NBC News reported that it's unlikely that Herrera was the intended victim, however.
CNN reported that police have not ruled out hate as a motive in the attack, as the first three bombings were all directed toward minorities and people of color. "We cannot rule out hate, but we're not saying it's hate," Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said, according to CNN.
Mason and House were both members of prominent black families in Austin, and they had relatives who knew each other. They were also members of the same church, and House's stepfather is close with Mason's grandfather. As police have been unable to name a suspect or determine a motive in the case, they're carefully investigating all of the possible connections between the victims. Nelson Linder, the president of the local NCAAP chapter, told NBC News that he believes that the intended target for the third bombing was likely a member of the House or Mason family, not Herrera.
Just before the fourth bomb exploded, the police chief gave a press conference and implored the perpetrator to come forward with whatever "message" he or she is trying to send with the string of bombings. “We assure you that we are listening," Manley said, Buzzfeed reported. "We want to understand what brought you to this point, and we want to listen to you.”
Austin now must remain in a state of high alert, and the Austin police department is working with the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to get to the bottom of this as quickly as possible.
Manley also told residents of the city not to touch any suspicious packages, at their homes or elsewhere. The construction of the bombs and their effectiveness suggests that the person who made them knew what they were doing, and the fourth bomb even looks like it could have been triggered by a tripwire as the two victims went by it either walking or riding their bicycles.
The more the authorities can figure out about the connections between the victims, they hope, the closer they'll be to pinpointing a suspect. For now, though, the people of Austin are being asked to move through their lives with even more care than usual.