Package explodes in Schertz; bomb linked to FedEx store in Sunset Valley

3:40 p.m.update: A package exploded at a FedEx facility early Tuesday in Schertz, about 60 miles southwest of Austin, marking the fifth bomb blast this month linked to a serial bomber who has targeted Austin residents. 

Schertz Police Chief Michael Hansen said officers were called at 12:25 a.m. to the FedEx ground facility at 9935 Doerr Lane for reports of an explosion. 

A package that was on an automated conveyer belt had detonated, sending shockwaves through the building where 75 people were working overnight, authorities said. 

No one was injured in the explosion, however an employee after the blast complained of ringing in her ears and was treated and released, Hansen said.

"We are confident that neither this facility nor any location in the Schertz area was a target," Hansen said. "With that said, we need to reiterate the message that we have heard so often recently that if you have a package that was not expected, if you are suspicious of the return address, if you come across any suspicious object, do not touch it, do not move it but call 911."

Authorities in the Austin suburb of Sunset Valley confirmed that the package was mailed from their local FedEx Office store on Brodie Lane. 

About 20 federal agents swarmed the FedEx store, where investigators are looking to see if the store has video and other useful clues, Sunset Valley Police Chief Lenn Carter said.

 "Whoever delivered (the package) had to have come inside the store," Carter said.

Federal authorities on Tuesday morning declined to release information about the package or how it detonated, however Schertz police told the Statesman it blasted out metal shrapnel and nails when it exploded.

An employee at the Schertz facility who did not want to be named exited the building shortly before 7:30 a.m., wrapped in a blanket.

She said she was working at the time of the explosion and that she had heard a "loud, metal bang," before staff ordered people to evacuate. "I just want to go home," she said.

FedEx confirmed Tuesday afternoon that a second suspicious package had been secured and turned over to law enforcement but did not specify where that package had been found.

Hours after the Schertz explosion, Austin police and fire crews, along with federal investigators, flocked to the FedEx ground facility in Southeast Austin near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport after reports of suspicious package there.

Authorities have asked anyone with information about the Schertz bomb to contact Austin police at 512-472-8477. 

12:50 p.m. update: San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said he misspoke when he claimed a second suspicious package was found at a FedEx facility in Schertz, where a package bomb exploded early Tuesday.

San Antonio police said a second device was not found and the department will issue a correction, police spokesman said.

11:30 a.m. update: San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said a second suspicious package was found at the FedEx facility in Schertz, where a package bomb exploded early Tuesday.

McManus said the package was removed from the sorting facility for further investigation.

Experts have said that finding an unexploded device could prove to be a turning point in the investigation into four bombings at Austin homes and neighborhoods in March that have left two people dead and four injured. An unexploded device could provide insight into a bomber’s methods and materials and aid in identifying a suspect.

10:30 a.m. update: Federal authorities said no one in Schertz or in the FedEx facility there was a target of a package bomb that exploded early Tuesday.

Representatives from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives declined to provide any other details about the explosion first reported to Schertz police at 12:25 a.m. 

Schertz Police Chief Michael Hansen, however, corrected earlier reports that a person was injured in the blast. 

Hansen said that after the package exploded on an automated conveyor belt, an employee standing nearby reported that she had ringing ears.

Federal authorities declined to describe what the package looked like or how it detonated, saying only that no one in the Schertz area is in danger .

Authorities, though, repeated their plea for tips from the public, asking anyone with information about the case could call 512-472-8477.

Earlier: A package destined for Austin exploded at a FedEx ground delivery facility in Schertz, northeast of San Antonio, according to federal authorities.

A federal official said that based on preliminary reports, the package was addressed from Austin to a recipient in Austin.

That official declined to be identified because they are not authorized to speak.

“We are investigating it as being possibly related to our open investigation,” FBI spokeswoman Michelle Lee said. “We can’t know for sure until we have an opportunity to look at the evidence itself.”

Interim Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said his department "is aware of the incident that has occurred in Schertz, Texas and is working closely on the investigation with our federal partners, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.”

According to San Antonio media reports, the package detonated around 12:25 a.m. as it traveled on a conveyor belt in the Schertz facility on Doerr Lane, where about 75 employees were working at the time.

Schertz police said in a statement posted on Facebook that “further investigation revealed the explosion came from a package in the sorting area of the facility. One person was treated and released at the scene.”

The person was hurt from the concussive force of the detonation, KENS-TV reported.

A FedEx employee who did not want to be named told the American-Statesman outside the facility that she heard a “loud, metal bang” before staff yelled for them to evacuate. Now she just wants to go home, she said.

Meanwhile, local authorities in Schertz confirmed to the Statesman that the package blasted out metal shrapnel and nails when it exploded.

News of an Austin-bound package bomb in Schertz comes two days after two men walking on a Southwest Austin street were injured in an explosion from the fourth bomb that has detonated in the city so far this month.

That bomb appeared to involve an elaborate device that relied on a trip wire. Police have described the devices used in the previous three explosions as “boxlike” bombs triggered by movement that were left on the doorsteps of homes.

The first Austin bombing on March 2 killed Anthony Stephan House, 39, the father of an 8-year-old girl. Police initially thought the Northeast Austin bombing was an isolated event but investigators’ focus and theories changed when the second and third bombings occurred 10 days later.

An explosion at a home on Oldfort Hill Drive in East Austin killed Draylen Mason, a 17-year-old senior at East Austin College Prep, and injured his mother. Within hours of that March 12 blast, another explosion in Southeast Austin injured Esperanza Herrera, 75.

Manley on Tuesday reiterated his public warning about the bomb danger:

“I want to continue to remind our community to pay close attention to any suspicious device whether it be a package, a bag, a backpack or anything that looks out of place, do not approach it,” the chief said. “Call 911 immediately. Also remember do not move, touch or open unexpected/suspicious packages."

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