What has happened in the 4 Austin bombings so far


Highlights

Two have died and four injured in four explosions across the city of Austin.

Three of the explosions were from devices hidden in packages left on door steps.

The fourth explosion was different than the other three in how the device was detonated.

Here is what we know about the four bombings in 17 days that have terrorized Austin, claimed two lives and injured four other people:

1. Northeast Austin, March 2

What happened: Dispatchers started receiving calls at 6:55 a.m. on March 2 about an explosion in Northeast Austin. Medics arrived at a house in the 1100 block of Haverford Drive shortly to find a man on his front porch.

Victim: The first Austin bombing killed Anthony Stephan House, 39, a Pflugerville High School graduate. After earning a business administration degree from Texas State University in 2008, House started a money managing firm, serving as president of House Capital Management LLC. More recently he worked as a senior project manager for Texas Quarries, a Cedar Park-based lime fabricator, and Acme Brick, a Fort Worth-based firm. He was father of an 8-year-old girl.

Investigation: Police initially thought the first bombing was an isolated event, thinking the package bomb had been delivered to House’s front door by mistake. Investigators’ initial theory was that the bomb may have been intended for a suspected drug dealer who lived near House. Next, investigators shifted their focus to House’s personal finances, although it’s unclear why or what detectives learned during their investigation. In 2016, House had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in federal court, claiming between $100,001 and $500,000 in debt. Investigators’ focus and theories changed when the second and third bombings occurred 10 days later.

2. East Austin, March 12

What happened: Emergency personnel from Austin-Travis County EMS, Austin police and fire departments responded to the 4800 block of Oldfort Hill Drive at 6:44 a.m. on March 12 after reports of a second package explosion in 10 days.

Victims: The blast killed Draylen Mason, a 17-year-old senior at East Austin College Prep. Mason was heavily involved in local music programs such as the Austin Youth Orchestra, where he was the principal double bass player, and the youth music program Austin Soundwaves, where he was also the principal bassist. He had been accepted to the University of Texas Butler School of Music. His mother, who has not been identified by police, was taken to Dell Seton Medical Center with serious and potentially life-threatening injuries.

Investigation: As in the first explosion, this bomb was described as package left overnight on the doorstep of a home. Austin interim Police Chief Brian Manley said the package was not delivered via the U.S. Postal Service or another commercial carrier.

Within hours, investigators announced that this bombing appeared to be related to the March 2 bombing. They determined House was the son of the Rev. Freddie Dixon, who served as a minister at Wesley United Methodist Church in East Austin for 22 years. Dixon is a close friend of and pastor to Norman Mason, the grandfather of Draylen Mason. The connections to prominent African-American families led investigators and community members to believe the bombings were possible hate crimes. The Rev. Sylvester Chase, pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church, said that, despite the family connections to the church, he didn’t think the church was the connection.

3. Southeast Austin, March 12

What happened: Hours after responding to the explosion on Oldfort Hill Drive, medics were called to the 6700 block of Galindo Street at 11:49 a.m. on March 12 after another explosion at a home.

Victim: Esperanza Herrera, 75, was hospitalized with critical injuries after picking up an exploding package outside her home, according to multiple reports. Her mother, Maria Moreno, reportedly suffered minor injuries.

Investigation: Authorities linked this explosion to the first two. Like the others, the bomb was disguised as a package left at a home. Authorities said the explosive devices in the three incidents were constructed from common household items that can be easily purchased at hardware stores.

Police were also investigating whether Herrera was the intended target of the exploding package or whether the bomber had made two mistakes: perhaps placing it on the wrong doorstep and thinking the resident was a member of the Dixon or Mason families. One of Herrera’s neighbors is named Erica Mason, and she told the American-Statesman she was questioned by police about whether she was related to the Mason family in the earlier attacks. She is not.

4. Southwest Austin, March 18

What happened: About 8:30 p.m. Sunday, an explosion was reported near Dawn Song Drive in the Travis Country subdivision on Southwest Parkway near MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1).

Victims: Two men — 22 and 23 years old — were hospitalized with significant injuries after the explosion. Officials said that both men, who a family friend confirmed are Will Grote and Colton Mathes, were in good condition.

Investigation: Unlike the previous bombs, this one was not left on a doorstep. Instead, police said the fourth bomb was left on or next to a sidewalk and appeared to have been triggered by a trip wire. Still, police said this bomb shared some similarities with the others. They said use of a trip wire indicated the bomb maker may be more sophisticated than previously thought. Investigators had been weighing whether the bomber was targeting ethnic minorities, but the victims of the fourth bombing were white. Police are asking for Travis Country residents to offer home security footage to aid in the investigation.



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