A string of package explosions in Austin, Texas, have police investigating whether race played a role in the attacks.
On Monday, a 17-year-old Black boy was killed and a 40-year-old Black woman was injured after discovering a package at their home that detonated upon opening. Police believe these explosions are connected to a package bomb that killed 39-year-old Anthony Stephan House, who is Black, on March 2.
After investigators realized all the victims were minorities, they discussed the potentiality of a serial hate crime, the Associated Press reports.
On Monday, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley held a news conference to discuss the victims and while he spoke, officers were called to the scene of another explosion that badly injured a 75-year-old Hispanic woman. She was taken to a hospital in critical condition.
Right now, are urging the public not to open or touch any unexpected packages and call police immediately if they receive one.
According to Chief Manley, at least two of the packages were left overnight on doorsteps and discovered in the morning by the victims. They were not mailed or sent by a delivery service. Manly also said neither the Postal Service nor private carriers such as UPS or FedEx have any record of delivering the package to the home where Monday's explosion occurred.
"There are similarities that we cannot rule out that these two items are, in fact, related," Manley said.
Although investigators have not determined a motive for the attacks, they believe the victims may have been specifically targeted because of their race.
"We don't know what the motive behind these may be," Manley said. "We do know that both of the homes that were the recipients of these packages belong to African-Americans, so we cannot rule out that hate crime is at the core of this."
Special Agent Michelle Lee, a San Antonio-based spokesman for the FBI, said the agency responded to both events and was assisting Austin police. She also said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was leading the federal investigation.
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