Package believed to be bound for Austin explodes at mail facility
An Austin-bound package exploded in a FedEx distribution center near San Antonio early Tuesday — and federal officials suspect the blast is tied to the string of bombings putting the Texas capital on edge.
“We suspect it is related to our investigation,” FBI San Antonio spokeswoman Michelle Lee told CNN.
Tuesday morning’s bomb was being sorted at the facility in Shertz, a San Antonio suburb 80 miles from Austin. It was moving from an upper conveyor belt to a lower one when it detonated shortly after midnight, sending shrapnel, including nails and pieces of metal, flying.
One female employee was treated for a possible concussion, but none of the 75 workers in the facility was gravely injured, News 4 San Antonio reported.
The medium-size parcel was bound for Austin, Schertz Police Chief Michael Hanson confirmed. Texas attorney general Ken Paxton told KXAN it was also mailed from Austin.
San Antonio Police Chief Bill McManus said there was also a second package believed to contain a bomb that officials were working on.
Hours later, police sent a hazardous-materials team to a Fed Ex facility near to check on a suspicious package there. Officials did not say whether the package contained a bomb.
Four bombs have gone off in Austin since March 2, killing two people and injuring four. Officials believe the blasts are the handiwork of a serial bomber.
None of the other four package bombs was delivered through FedEx or UPS.
The first three bombs were dropped off in front of homes on Austin’s east side, while the fourth — an apparent tripwire device — went off near a hiking trailhead on the city’s west side Sunday, injuring two men in their 20s.
Though the device used in Sunday’s attack was more sophisticated, all four were similar in construction, leading authorities to say they are dealing with a serial bomber.
The first two bombs killed 39-year-old Anthony House and 17-year-old Draylen Mason. The third injured 75-year-old Esperanza Herrera.
House and Mason were African-American, and Herrera is Hispanic, leading investigators to consider the possibility that the bombings were racially motivated.
Both victims in Sunday’s attack are white, but police had not ruled out hate as a possible motive for the bombings.
Congressional Black Caucus members called for the bombings to be classified as “terrorist attacks” Monday — and pushed for officials to determine whether they are “ideologically or racially motivated.”
Austin PD announced Tuesday they’d responded to 420 suspicious package calls in 24 hours and over 1,000 since the two March 12 bombings.