by Daveda Gruber:
The Texas capital is in fear as Austin responds to another blast. This one was possibly triggered by a trip wire. Sunday night two people on bicycles were injured.
Police are frantically working to determine if the blast is linked to a trio of package bombings.
Sunday night in a suburban neighborhood known as Travis Country, at around 8:30 p.m., an explosion left people hurt and scared.
There is no confirmation on what caused it yet.
Austin police Chief Brian Manley said the explosion may have been detonated by a trip wire. He added, that the explosion was “activated by someone either handling, kicking or coming into contact with a trip wire that activated the device” as they walked or rode their bikes through the area.
At a hastily-arranged news conference Manley said, “That changes things, in that our safety message to this point has been involving the handling of packages and telling communities ‘do not handle packages, do not pick up packages, do not disturb packages. We now need the community 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. Do not approach it.”
He urged people within a half-a-mile radius to stay in their homes until at least daybreak. Investigators still had yet to process the entire scene but Manley said police were “working under the belief” the explosion was related to the three others.
Manley said at an earlier news conference, “We want to put out the message that we’ve been putting out and that is, not only do not touch any packages or anything that looks like a package, do not even go near it at this time. We have not had an opportunity to look at this blast site to really determine what has happened.”
A witness described hearing a “loud bang,” adding that it was “not a car crash, not gunshots but something terrible.”
Injured Sunday night were two men in their 20s. They suffered non-life threatening injuries in the blast, including one who had nails in his leg.
South Austin Medical Center officials said the men were in good condition.
Authorities issued an emergency alert on cellular phones after the explosion.
Just got this alert on my phone in Austin— pic.twitter.com/zQsf9odoTG
— Logan Dobson (@LoganDobson) March 19, 2018
Late Sunday, Austin Mayor Steve Adler said he was confident authorities were going to find who is responsible for the string of “horrific” explosions.
Authorities said they would keep the surrounding area blocked off at least until daybreak Monday for authorities to check the area.
Manley urged people within half a mile to stay in their homes.
Sunday’s explosion was the fourth that went off in Austin in less than three weeks. The three previous blasts occurred on the eastside of the city.
The first explosion killed 39-year-old Anthony Stephen House. It was a package bomb that exploded at a northeast Austin home on March 2. Two more package bombs then exploded farther south on March 12, killing, 17 year old Draylen Mason and wounding his mother and injuring a 75-year-old woman.
Police are saying all three of those were likely related and involved packages that had not been mailed or delivered by private carrier but left overnight on doorsteps.
Manley originally suggested they could have been hate crimes since all the victims were black or Hispanic, but now says that investigators aren’t ruling out any possible motive.
Austin police said the reward for information leading to an arrest in the deadly explosions has risen by $50,000 to a new total of $115,000.
Manley said more than 500 officers, including FBI, have conducted 236 interviews in following up 435 leads.
No suspects are reported at this time.
If you have something suspicious to report, Go to this website: http://www.austintexas.gov/page/submit-tips
Or call this number: TIPS Hotline-512-472-TIPS (8477 or 800-893-TIPS (8477)