AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Police in Austin are warning residents not to open packages that appear suspicious or that they were not expecting. This follows three explosions at Austin homes this month that authorities believe are linked.
“If you receive a package that you are not expecting or looks suspicious, DO NOT open it, call 911 immediately,” Austin police Chief Brian Manley tweeted.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has issued a similar warning statewide.
"With three reported explosions in the Austin area, I want to urge all Texans to report any suspicious or unexpected packages arriving by mail to local law enforcement authorities. Call 9-1-1 immediately if you receive something suspicious," said Paxton on his Twitter account.
During an afternoon news conference on Monday, police said the packages were not delivered by any kind of delivery service such as the U.S. Postal Service, UPS, or FedEx.
Governor Greg Abbott says his office has been briefed by the Texas Department of Public Safety, and has offered whatever resources necessary to assist authorities in their investigation.
Additionally, the Office of the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division is offering a reward of up to $15,000 for information leading to the identification and arrest of the person or persons involved in the deadly package blasts that have occurred in Austin over the past 10 days.
"First and foremost, Cecilia and I offer our thoughts and prayers to the victims of these atrocious attacks," said Governor Abbott. "I want to assure all Texans, and especially those in Austin, that local, state and federal law enforcement officials are working diligently to find those responsible for these heinous crimes. As the investigation continues, the State of Texas will provide any resources necessary to ensure the safety of our citizens, and quickly bring those guilty to justice."
To be eligible for a cash reward of up to $15,000, tips must be submitted to Texas Crime Stoppers using one of the following methods:
Call the Texas Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-252-TIPS (8477)
Text the letters "DPS"- followed by your tip – to 274637 (CRIMES)
Submit a web tip through the website
Submit a tip through the DPS Mobile App
All tips are guaranteed to be anonymous regardless of submission type.
The warnings came as police were responding to another explosion in Austin that badly injured a woman, hours after a package bomb killed a teenager and wounded a woman in a different part of the city.
Austin-Travis County EMS tweeted that an explosion Monday in southeast Austin injured a woman in her 70s, who has been hospitalized.
A second woman from that address has been hospitalized with an unrelated medical issue.
Authorities have not said whether the most recent explosion was caused by a package bomb like the one that exploded earlier Monday.
The package that exploded early Monday killing a boy, 17, and injuring a woman in her 40s, may be linked to a deadly package sent to another home in Texas' capital city earlier this month because they were both left on the front doorstep and not delivered by a mail service.
Manley said at a news conference Monday that the U.S. Postal Service does not have a record of delivering a package to the Austin home where the explosion occurred Monday.
He says that package was taken into the kitchen of the home where it detonated, killing a 17-year-old boy and injuring the woman.
Authorities said earlier that the woman's injuries were life-threatening, but Manley says she'll survive.
A 39-year-old man was killed in the March 2 attack.
Police say their investigation of deadly package bombings will try to determine if a hate crime was involved because the victims in both cases were black.
Police Chief Brian Manley said Monday that investigators hope to collect surveillance video from nearby homes to identify a suspect.
He says there's currently no other evidence indicating a hate crime beyond the victims' race.
The FBI is helping Austin police in the investigation.