Austin Explosions Investigated as Possible Hate Crimes

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An Austin teenager was killed and several others were injured Monday when two packages left on doorsteps exploded. They were the second and third parcel explosions in the Texas capital in two weeks, USA Today reports. Police Chief Brian Manley said the three incidents were similar enough that police are investigating them together. Because two of the victims were African Americans and one was Hispanic, investigators also were viewing the attacks as possible hate crimes. Local police are working with the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to determine whether the three bombs were similar and to identify the person, or people, who built them.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott offered a $15,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person who planted the bombs. In all three cases, packages were left on a doorstep during the night and residents found them in the morning. The first incident occurred March 2 in a home in northern Austin. Anthony House, 39, was killed, but his death was not initially ruled a homicide because it was an “isolated incident.” After two more explosions on Monday, House’s death was reclassified as a homicide and added to the broader investigation. The first call Monday came at 6:44 a.m. A 17-year-old male and an “adult female” found a package on their doorstep and opened it inside their kitchen. Neighbors called police after hearing an explosion inside the house. The teen died in the hospital. As investigators combed through the scene, police responded to another bomb report and found a 75-year-old Hispanic woman who also had found a package outside that exploded when she opened it. Manley said she was facing “life-threatening injuries.”

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