After 5th Bombing In 3 Weeks, Austin Police Are No Closer To An Arrest

Update: Following the fifth bombing in less than three weeks, Austin police – as well as federal agents with the FBI and ATF – are no closer to solving the mystery of who is sending these bombs, and why?

After initially entertaining the theory that the bombings could be racially motivated, a more racially diverse victim base in recent attacks has discounted this theory. In each bombing, the weapons have been loaded with nails and shrapnel. Domestic terrorism has also been discussed as a motive, according to the Associated Press.

As an aside, the AP also clarified that it was unable to confirm reports that one FedEx employee had been injured in Tuesday morning’s blast.

While the first three bombings all occurred east of Interstate 35, a section of town that tends to be more heavily minority and less affluent, Sunday’s was west of the highway. The differences in where the blasts have occurred, the lack of a motive and other unknowns make it harder to draw conclusions about a possible pattern, further unnerving a city on edge.

Fred Milanowski, an ATF agent who’s working the case, said investigators have followed up on more than 500 leads. Police have asked anybody with surveillance cameras at nearby homes to come forward with their footage, hoping that one of the cameras might’ve captured something suspicious.

With students preparing to return to Austin following Spring Break, police are telling residents to be extra cautious.

Meanwhile, the PGA’s Dell Technologies Match Play tournament is scheduled to begin in Austin on Wednesday, bringing dozens of the world’s best golfers to the state capitol.

“I’m pretty sure the tour has enough security to keep things safe in here. But this is scary what’s happening,” said golfer Jhonattan Vegas, already in town.

But after five bombings in the span of five weeks, investigators have no solid leads.

That should be incredibly concerning to all residents of the Austin area.

As CBS points out, investigators are worried that whoever is behind these bombings has gone from “targeting a specific individual” to “I just want to kill someone.”

“That’s concerning,” said Clint McNear, a former Garland detective who now operates McNear Consulting.

The shift from a bomb triggered by motion to a tripwire shows sophistication, according to McNear.

“They’ve done it repeatedly without harming themselves, they’re displaying that they have some knowledge,” said McNear.

Having built and transported at least four bombs, McNear believes it is likely not someone who is learning as they go.

“My mind was racing this morning. Is it a former oil-field worker that’s extremely familiar with explosive devices?”questioned McNear. “Is it a former military EOD? Former fire/police officer that’s got training in bombs?”

But while the investigation is ongoing, McNear warned the public not to panic.

“I would beg the public to not panic, to be prepared, not paranoid and if you see something, you have to report it,” said McNear.

Right now, investigators’ best hope is that the bomber accidentally detonates their next device during assembly, killing them.

“I hope he inadvertently becomes a suicide bomber in his garage trying to build his next device because he certainly is a dangerous person,” said McNear.

But considering their ostensible level of sophistication, this outcome seems unlikely.

For now, police have little choice but to wait and see what comes…

* * *

In a disturbing development, a package believed to be headed for Austin, Texas exploded at a FedEx facility in Schertz, Texas – a suburb of San Antonio that’s roughly a 60 mile drive from the state capitol, the Washington Post reported.

The FBI told CBS that it’s “more than possible” the blast is linked to the recent ones in Austin before law enforcement sources confirmed it.

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The explosion occurred at around 12:30 am Tuesday morning (local time). The bomb, which contained nails and shrapnel, wounded at least one woman, FBI Special Agent Michelle Lee told reporters.

Work at the facility, which was staffed by 75 people, has ground to a halt as the FBI and ATF arrived on the scene. A local CBS affiliate received a call from one woman whose husband works at the facility. She told the station that he was not being allowed to leave.

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Since March 2, five explosions (including Tuesday morning’s blast) have rocked the Austin area. Police have warned the public that the incidents appear to be linked, and that they are “currently dealing with a serial bomber”.

In addition to the two men who were wounded after Sunday night’s explosion, two black men have been killed and an elderly Hispanic woman has been wounded. Police say they haven’t ruled out the possibility that the attacks – which began on March 2 – were racially motivated. The first three bombs were left on doorsteps. But Sunday’s explosion in Austin was likely triggered by a tripwire, which suggests that the suspects have a higher level of sophistication than police had initially believed. So far, there’s not enough evidence for police to classify the incidents as terrorism or hate crimes.

“We don’t know what the motive behind these may be. We do know that both of the homes that were the recipients of these packages belonged to African Americans, so we cannot rule out that hate crime is at the core of this,” said Austin Police Chief Brian Manley.

Authorities don’t appear to have any leads in a case that’s looking suspiciously like the infamous “unabomber” case from the 1990s.

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