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UPDATE: Two Men Injured By Bomb In Austin; HPD Chief Acevedo Discusses Bombings And Safety

The latest explosion injured two men in their 20s who were riding or walking their bicycles through a neighborhood in southwestern Austin

THE LATEST on the bombings in Austin, Texas:

WATCH: Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo Discusses Bombings In Austin And What Houstonians Can Do To Stay Safe:

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4:50 p.m.

Police have reopened some streets after putting an Austin neighborhood where the latest explosion occurred on total lockdown overnight.

But much of the area known as Travis Country remains closed to all but some residents, and the vicinity around the blast remained cordoned off.

By late Monday afternoon, even one resident who said that he could practically see his house from behind the police tape was denied entry.

Four blasts have hit Austin in less than three weeks, killing two people and wounding four others.

Police had closed the neighborhood to comb through evidence, and were still searching for clues. Rewards totaling $115,000 are being offered for information leading to an arrest in the case.

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4:25 p.m.

The NAACP is calling the four bombings that have hit Austin in less than three weeks acts of domestic terrorism.

In a statement Monday, NAACP President Derrick Johnson said, “We are asking our membership to be vigilant and to pay attention to anything out of the ordinary in their communities and avoiding picking up any unexpected packages left at their homes.”

The group noted that the first two package bombs “murdered two African Americans” and that the next two injured a Hispanic woman and “two Caucasian males.” The first bombing occurred March 2 and the most recent happened Sunday night.

NAACP Austin President Nelson Linder said in a statement, “This is a time for us to communicate” regarding “any type of strange behavior in our neighborhoods.”

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3 p.m.

Police had asked residents living near the site of the latest Austin explosion to remain in their homes until 2 p.m. — but an hour later, the area was still on lockdown.

Police chief Brian Manley said earlier Monday that although officers didn’t find anything suspicious in the southwestern Austin residential neighborhood of Travis Country, investigators were still collecting evidence.

Sunday night’s explosion occurred around 8 p.m.

But it was unclear when police would give the all-clear for residents to leave their homes.

Authorities say Sunday night’s bombing differed from three package bombs earlier this month but may be the work of a serial bomber.

Also, Gov. Greg Abbott announced he was releasing $265,000 in state funds to Austin police and state authorities investigating all four bombings.

The Office of the Governor Greg Abbott announced the release of $265,500 in emergency funding for the Austin Police Department and the Texas Ranger Bomb Response Team to purchase seven portable x-ray systems for use in bomb detection and responding to suspicious package investigations, according to a press release from the Governor’s office. 

“I want to ensure everyone in the Austin region and the entire state that Texas is committed to providing every resource necessary to make sure these crimes are solved as quickly as possible,” said Abbott. “I offer my sincere thanks to law enforcement at the local, state and federal level for their efforts to ensure that those responsible for these attacks are apprehended and brought to justice.”

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Here’s a look at the investigation so far, by the numbers:

— 2, 4: Number of people killed and the number wounded. The first explosion occurred March 2, killing a 39-year-old man. The latest happened Sunday evening, injuring 22- and 23-year-old men.

— 500: The number of leads that have been closed since the bombings began, according to Fred Milanowski, special agent in charge of the Houston division of the ATF.

— $115,000: Amount of reward being offered for a tip leading to a conviction.

— 350: Number of FBI agents currently involved in the investigation, according to FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs. Hundreds of other law enforcement personnel also are involved, including those with Austin police and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

— 240: Approximate number of interviews conducted with witnesses, people calling in tips and others since the first explosion.

— 600: Calls that Austin police have responded to for suspicious packages since the second and third blasts happened March 12.

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12:40 p.m.

Those who live in the Austin neighborhood where the latest in a string of bombings injured two men are expressing a mix of fear and other emotions, including surprise and confusion.

Laura McGinnis, who lives in the Travis Country neighborhood in southwestern Austin, said Monday that Sunday night’s attack is frightening but that it hasn’t personally affected her yet. However, she says the bombing and three others elsewhere in the city this month make her wonder why the bomber hasn’t been caught.

Adam McGinnis, who also lives in the neighborhood, says he was reading on his back porch Sunday night when he heard what sounded like a large gun blast. He says he figured it must have been a transformer that blew and didn’t realize it was a bombing until his wife told him Monday morning.

Authorities say they believe all four blasts are the work of a serial bomber. The attacks have killed two people and injured four others.

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12:10 p.m.

An FBI investigator says he hopes the latest bombing in Texas’ capital city isn’t the bomber’s way of reaching out to law enforcement.

Authorities have been calling on the person or people behind this month’s string of bombings in Austin to let them know the reasons for the attacks.

Christopher Combs, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Antonio division, told The Associated Press on Monday that investigators are looking for a dialogue with the bomber. He notes that the stakes “went up a lot” on Sunday with the bomber’s use of a tripwire. Two men were seriously injured.

Combs, who is investigating the Austin attacks, says, “The bomber has obviously shown us that he has the ability to make more complex devices, to hurt more people, to be more random. And that’s not good. That why we need to talk to the bomber about what is going on.”

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The PGA Tour, which is staging the Dell Match Play Championship in west Austin this week, says its security advisers are collaborating closely with law enforcement to try to ensure the safety of players and fans.

The PGA said Monday that it doesn’t comment on the specifics of its security measures, but that the safety of players and fans is its top priority.

Austin has been the site of four bombings this month, including one Sunday night that was triggered by a tripwire and seriously injured two men. The first three attacks used package bombs left on people’s doorsteps. They killed two people and injured two others.

Authorities believe the attacks are the work of a serial bomber.

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11:45 a.m.

Authorities say the latest bomb to go off in the Texas capital of Austin was anchored to a metal yard sign near a hiking trail and equipped with a fishing line-thin tripwire.

Frederick Milanowski, the special agent in charge for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, said at a news conference Monday that the wire or filament that detonated the bomb Sunday night would have been very difficult to see.

Two men received significant injuries in the blast. Authorities say that although it is different from the three package bombings that killed two people and injured two others elsewhere in the city this month, they believe they are all the work of a serial bomber or bombers.

Milanowski says investigators have received more than 500 leads since the first bombing on March 2 and they are looking at several persons of interest.

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11:20 a.m.

Austin’s police chief says officers have completed a sweep of the neighborhood where the latest in a string of bombings occurred and deemed it safe, but he asked those who live there to remain indoors until 2 p.m.

Police Chief Brian Manley said at a news conference Monday that although officers didn’t find anything suspicious while canvassing the southwestern Austin residential neighborhood of Travis Country, investigators are still collecting evidence.

Authorities say that although Sunday night’s bombing differed from three earlier this month, they believe they were the work of a serial bomber or bombers. Two men received significant injuries in Sunday’s attack. It apparently involved a bomb placed alongside a fence and a tripwire that the men triggered while walking their bikes between the fence and a street.

The first three attacks used package bombs left on people’s doorsteps. Those attacks killed two people and injured two others.

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11 a.m.

Authorities are urging the public to provide surveillance video that could assist in the investigation into the string of bombings in the Texas capital of Austin.

During a news conference Monday, police Chief Brian Manley asked homeowners and others to forward video to investigators that might offer insight into the bombing Sunday night or three earlier this month.

The latest explosion injured two men in their 20s who were riding or walking their bicycles through a neighborhood in southwestern Austin. The earlier blasts killed two people and injured two others and happened in other parts of the city.

Authorities say the device that detonated Sunday featured a tripwire and was left near a road, while the prior bombings involved packages left on people’s doorsteps.

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10:50 a.m.

Austin’s police chief says the four bombings that have killed two people and injured four others in Texas’ capital city this month are believed to be the work of a serial bomber.

Police Chief Brian Manley said at a news conference Monday that Sunday night’s explosion that injured two men marks a “significant change” from the first three because it was triggered by a tripwire that would have hit any random person walking by it. The first three attacks were carried out with package bombs left on people’s doorsteps.

Manley says as investigators search for a pattern in the attacks, they will try to determine if there is a specific ideology motivating them.

The attack Sunday happened in a southwestern Austin residential neighborhood that isn’t close to the sites of the first three attacks.

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Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo tweeted about Austin bombings 

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10:25 a.m.

Authorities have called on the person or people behind the bombings in Austin, Texas, to reach out to the police to let them know why they’re setting off the explosives.

Police Chief Brian Manley said Monday that it’s too soon to say whether Sunday night’s bombing that injured two men could have been a response to his call for those behind the bombings to reach out.

Manley says investigators see “similarities” between Sunday night’s bomb and three others this month that killed two people and injured two others. But he says Sunday’s differed in that it involved a tripwire whereas the others were package bombs left on people’s doorsteps.

Frederick Milanowski, the special agent in charge for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, says the latest bomb is “more sophisticated” because it used a tripwire.

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10:15 a.m.

Authorities say investigators see “similarities” between the latest bomb to detonate in Texas’ capital city and three bombs that went off earlier this month.

Police Chief Brian Manley said at a news conference Monday that although the bomb that injured two men Sunday night seems linked to the three previous ones, the latest bomb involved a tripwire and those three were package bombs left on people’s doorsteps.

Frederick Milanowski, the special agent in charge for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, says the latest bomb is “more sophisticated” because it used a tripwire.

Manley says the two victims are men ages 22 and 23 and that they are hospitalized in stable condition with significant injuries.

Both men are white, as opposed to the victims of the three prior bombings, who were black or Hispanic. Those attacks killed two people and injured two others.

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Interim Austin Police Chief Brian Manley says an explosion that injured two white men in their 20s in the Travis Country neighborhood in Southwest Austin was caused by a bomb. Authorities are “operating under the belief” that the explosion is connected  to three package bomb explosions in Austin this month, Manley said.

Responding to reports that the bomb may have been triggered by a trip wire, Manley said it was “very possible” the bomb was activated by someone either “handling, kicking or coming into contact with a trip wire.”

“We do believe, based on what we’ve seen, that this was a bomb that exploded,” Manley said early this morning. “However, we are not believing that this is similar to the previous ones, as in packages left on doorsteps. But instead this was some type of a suspicious package that was left on the side of the road that detonated.”

He said that possibility is changing the advice police are giving to people. They now say people should have an “extra level of vigilance” and be on the lookout for anything that looks suspicious — a package, a bag, a backpack or “anything that looks out of place.”

Manley also announced that police are asking residents in the Travis Country neighborhood to stay in their homes until 10 a.m. Monday to give police time to do a thorough search of the neighborhood.

The explosion came a day after Austin police arrested a man for emailing a bomb threat to the Fair Market in East Austin on Saturday evening, forcing the cancellation of a concert by The Roots at the South by Southwest festival. Police charged 26-year-old Trevor Weldon Ingram with making a terroristic threat, which is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

According to The Austin-American Statesman, a representative of the event promotion company Live Nation Music called the police to report the company had received a bomb threat via email at 4:23 p.m. Central time on Saturday. Officers checked the concert venue, but found nothing suspicious. Police took Ingram into custody at 11:15 p.m. Saturday night.

On Twitter, SXSW apologized to attendees for the inconvenience, writing, “Your safety and the safety of all fans at SXSW is our most important priority.”

The Roots’ drummer, Questlove, wrote on Twitter on Sunday that “no one is Mr. ‘show must go on’ than me. But we can’t risk our lives if we are told there was a bomb threat.

The two victims were taken to St. David’s South Austin Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries. A hospital spokesman said they were in good condition.

At a press conference last night Manley said officials would not be able to deem the areas safe until daylight “given the darkness and the size of the area.” He’s added that APD will likely have an update for Travis Country residents at 10 a.m.

Due to the police activity, the Austin Independent School District said it would not be able to send buses into the Travis Country neighborhood Monday morning. Classes at Regents School of Austin are also canceled for the day. Additionally, St. Andrew’s Upper School on Southwest Parkway has canceled classes for the day. Classes at St. Gabriel’s Catholic School will be delayed until 10:30 a.m. 

 

 

Speaking to KUT, Adler echoed Manley’s call for caution, advising Austinites who see a suspicious package or backpack to keep their distance and call 911 immediately.

It’s unclear if these incidents are related to three package bombings that killed Austinites Anthony Stephan House and Draylen Mason and injured two others, but Manley said investigators are “working under the belief” that they are connected. Manley added that it will take additional analysis of the blast site to confirm any possible connection.

The Austin Police Department has been working with the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and state law enforcement since two explosions last week. In that time, APD says it has fielded over 735 calls about suspicious packages.

State and federal authorities have offered a reward of up to $115,000 for any information related to the bombings. 

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