Explosion in Austin wounds two men, FBI on scene
AUSTIN (Reuters) – An explosion in Austin on Sunday wounded two men, thought to be in their 20s, authorities said, as Federal Bureau of Investigation agents rushed to the scene in the Texas capital, where earlier this month three parcel bombs killed two people.
Police told a press conference that the wounded men were taken to a hospital, but their injuries were not life threatening.
“We have a scene where it is obvious an explosion has taken place,” Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said. “We just simply do not know a lot at this point.”
He also told people to stay in their homes and avoid touching any suspicious packages, but did not say whether there was any link between the latest blast and the earlier parcel bombs.
The FBI said on Twitter that its agents were at the scene of Sunday’s explosion in a residential neighbourhood on the west side of the city, several miles from where the east side neighbourhoods where the earlier blasts occurred.
Agents from the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) were also attending the scene, the FBI said.
“Residents in immediate area … wait in your homes and follow instructions of officers,” Austin police said on their Twitter feed.
Investigators are still looking for the culprits behind the three parcel bombs that exploded in three separate east side neighbourhoods of the city, killing two African-American males and leaving a 75-year-old Hispanic woman fighting for her life.
More than 500 federal agents have joined Austin police in the homicide investigation.
Earlier on Sunday, Austin police said whoever was responsible for the bombs was trying to send a message and should contact authorities to explain any motive.
“We are not going to understand that (message) until the suspect or suspects reach out to us to talk to us about what that message was,”Manley said.
Manley said police were also investigating the bombings as possible hate crimes.
The first bombing on March 2 killed Anthony Stephan House, a 39-year-old black man. It ripped a hole in a home entrance wall and damaged the front door.
A bomb last Monday morning killed Draylen Mason, a 17-year-old African American teenager and promising musician. It also injured his mother. A few hours later, a third bombing injured the 75-year-old Hispanic woman, who has not been named.
Police have received more than 735 calls about suspicious packages since the three parcel bomb attacks, but authorities had not found any that posed a security risk, Manley said.
A reward of $115,000 has been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible.