A package bomb exploded early Tuesday morning at a Texas FedEx facility near San Antonio, according to police, who believe this package was on its way to Austin. This is the fifth explosion this month in the Austin area, and it is very likely the work of a serial bomber.
And, officials discovered a sixth explosive package later on Tuesday at the FedEx that did not detonate.
The most recent explosion happened just after midnight, northeast of San Antonio in Schertz, Texas, at a FedEx facility.
“A package had been traveling along the automated conveyer when it exploded,” Schertz Police Chief Michael Hansen said at a Tuesday morning press conference.
“We’re confident that neither this facility nor any location in the Schertz area was the target,” Hansen said. “If you have a package that was not expected, if you’re suspicious of the return address… do not touch it, do not move it, but contact 911.”
Officials would not say where the package destination was, and officials would not confirm whether or not this explosion was related to the serial bombings in Austin, or if there were nails and shrapnel in the package.
Schertz Mayor Michael Carpenter, ATF acting special agent in charge Frank Ortega and FBI assistant special agent in charge James Smith were present at the press release.
“This is a very fluid investigation, and we want the general public to know their safety is our number one priority,” Ortega said.
Officials stressed that this was an ongoing investigation, and they did not respond to most questions posed during the press conference.
The explosion took place in the sorting area. One employee sustained minor injuries and was treated by paramedics on the scene and later released, the Schertz Police reported via Facebook.
Police are investigating a link between this morning’s blast and the other four package bomb explosions that have left two dead and four others injured.
“It would be silly for us not to admit that we suspect it’s related,” FBI Special Agent Michelle Lee said, the Associated Press reported.
“We are working closely with law enforcement in their investigation. We are not providing any additional specific information about this package at this time,” Schertz Police said in a statement.
A fourth package bomb explosion on Sunday night in Texas left two more people injured.
Police believe this bombing – the fourth since March 2 – is likely related to the other three incidents earlier this month, except this detonation used a trip wire. Two people have died and four others have been injured in package bomb explosions in Austin this month.
Sunday’s explosion injured two white men in their 20s in a residential neighborhood in the southwest area of Austin. Both men are expected to recover.
The explosive was roadside, unlike the other three that were delivered directly to homes, and may have been triggered by a tripwire
“We are working under the belief that this is related to the other bombing incidents that have occurred in our community over the last couple weeks,” Interim Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said at a news conference early Monday.
Officials held a press conference Monday morning and warned residents to not even approach any suspicious-looking packages, but to call 911 and alert authorities, especially after the most recent trip wire bomb.
ATF Special Agent Fred Milanowski said a trip wire bomb uses a wire, and when pressure is placed on the wire, it detonates a device; it could be as simple as tripping over the wire or picking up a package, he explained Monday.
Manley again warned residents not to go near suspicious packages, but to “make sure you’re safe and contact us if you see something suspicious or out of place.”
There are more than 500 law enforcement officials from local police, the FBI and ATF working on the series of what appear to be serial bombings in Austin.
The first of the four explosions took place in east Austin.
In three incidents since then, two people have killed – a 39-year-old construction worker and a 17-year-old high school student – and a third person was seriously injured, a 75-year-old Hispanic woman.
Police had only said that the explosives are sophisticated and could have been driven by racial bias but cautioned that this was just an early theory.
These explosions come at a time when Austin is seeing crowds of visitors in town for the South by Southwest festival.
“We’ve said from the beginning that we’re not willing to rule anything out, just because when you rule something out, you limit your focus. This does change the concerns that we had initially, although we have still not yet ruled it out until we understand what the ideology or motive is behind the suspect or suspects,” Manley said in an interview Monday with ABC’s “Good Morning America,” according to The Washington Post.
“If this explosion last night was the result of a bomb that was utilizing trip wire technology, that is showing a different level of skill, above what we were already concerned that this suspect or suspects possess,” Manley added.