Texas bombs likely connected; no obvious links among sites

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Three package bombs left on doorsteps in suburban neighborhoods have exploded in less than two weeks in Texas’ capital city, killing two people, wounding two others and leaving investigators vowing to look at any possible explanation for a motive.

Police said the bombings in eastern Austin — two Monday and one on March 2 — are likely linked. All the victims were minorities, and investigators are looking into whether race was a factor. However, they backed off initial suggestions that hate crimes could be a core cause.

The attacks unfolded as tens of thousands of visitors arrived for the busiest days of the South By Southwest music festival. The gathering didn’t appear related, but police urged tourists to be vigilant while warning residents to call authorities immediately if they receive unexpected parcel deliveries.

The first of Monday’s blasts occurred early in the morning when a package was carried into the kitchen and exploded upon being opened, killing a 17-year-old boy and wounding a 40-year-old woman, both of them black.

Hours later, authorities were called to the scene of another explosion also triggered by the opening of a package. That blast wounded a 75-year-old Hispanic woman, who was taken to a hospital with potentially life-threatening injuries.

Both of those explosions are thought to be linked to another early morning blast, this one on March 2, which killed a black man. Monday’s victims were not immediately identified but police said previously that the March 2 victim was 39-year-old Anthony Stephan House.

“This is the third in what we believe to be related incidents over the past 10 days,” Austin police Chief Brian Manley said during the second of two news conferences he held near each of Monday’s explosion sites.

At first Manley suggested that the blasts could constitute a hate crime, but later amended that to say authorities had not settled on a motive since the intended targets weren’t clear because multiple people live in the homes where explosives were placed. He also said they may possibly have been left at the wrong addresses.

“We are not ruling anything out at this point,” Manley said.

Investigators refused to provide many details about how the explosives were packaged, citing the ongoing investigation. But Manley described them as “not particularly large.” In all three cases, he said, the packages did not appear to have gone through the U.S. Postal Service or private carriers, but were left on doorsteps without knocking or ringing doorbells.