By Frederick H. Lowe
A fourth bomb exploded in Austin, Texas, the scene of three bombings in the last three weeks that killed a black man, a black teenager and injured two women.
The latest bombings injured two white bicyclists in their twenties. They weren’t identified. Their injuries were not life threatening, police said.
This bomb was different from the others because the explosion was caused by a tripwire, a passive triggering device. The first three bombs exploded after the victims opened bomb-filled packages left on their front porches, said Austin Police Chief Brian Manley. The fourth bomb was found lying near the side of a road.
Sunday’s bombing followed a bomb threat earlier the same day at the South by Southwest Festival before “The Bud Light x The Roots & Friends Jam” that was about to begin on the final day of the music and science festival. Bud Light cancelled the concert out of concern for audience safety. Police arrested Trevor Ingram, 26, and charged him with making a terrorist threat. Manley said he is not involved in the other bombings.
After Sunday’s bombing, police ordered families in the neighborhood to stay in their homes until 10 a.m. local time and not to touch any suspicious packages. Police also asked the bomber to contact them. More than 500 federal agents and local police are searching for the bomber or bombers.
Austin remained on edge Tuesday when a FedEx package bound for the city exploded in a sorting facility in Schertz, Texas, FedEx confirmed. One employee was treated for minor injuries. The Associated Press reported that the FBI believes the detonation is connected to four earlier bombings in Austin.
It was reported that a sixth bomb on Tuesday in an Austin Goodwill store, but police said it wasn’t a bomb.
Three members of the Congressional Black Caucus demanded that the bombings be classified as ongoing terrorist attacks.
“We need to know if these attacks are ideologically or racially motivated,” wrote U.S. Representatives Cedric Richmond, chairman of the CBC, Sheila Jackson Lee (D., Texas) and Bennie G. Thompson (D., Mississippi). “We cannot stand idly by while our cities are under attack.”
Last week, police released photographs of what a package and an envelope may have looked like that contained three bombs that killed a black man, a black youth and injured two women in separate incidents that occurred in disparate locations throughout this segregated city,
The police department issued a warning in bold letters: “Suspicious Mail or Packages: protect yourself, your businesses, and your mailroom.”
The package was wrapped in brown paper and bore a white address label and eight first-class stamps. The other explosive device is believed to have been contained in a plain white envelope.
A bomb exploded on March 2, killing Anthony Stephan House, 39, after he opened a package he found on his front-door steps. House was a business owner with an 8-year-old daughter.
Ten days later, a bomb killed 17-year-old Draylen Mason and injured his mother, who hasn’t been named, according to police. The bomb exploded when Draylen opened the package. Draylen was an aspiring musician. The families of House and Draylen knew each other and both attended Wesley United Methodist Church, which was founded by freed slaves in 1866.
On the same day in a different neighborhood, a bomb exploded, injuring Esperanza Morena, a 75-year-old Hispanic woman.
When she attempted to open the package, she found on her porch, the bomb inside it exploded. She lost fingers on one hand and one of her legs had to amputated. The bombs contain nails as shrapnel.
Police delayed issuing a warning after the first deadly explosion, because they suspected House caused his own death, but after the second bomb exploded, police warned residents not to open any suspicious packages and to report them to police. So far, police have received over 700 calls. None have turned out to be fruitful.
The reward for leading law enforcement to the bomber or bombers’ identification and arrest has been raised to $115, 000.
Austin is a very segregated town, leading black residents to believe the bombings are racially motivated although no one or no group has claimed responsibility for the deadly blasts.
In 1928, city officials created a “Negro District” on the East Side that was divided by Interstate Highway 35 from the west side where whites lived. Blacks were forced to move east until their property became valuable. It was then purchased by whites. Decades later, the East Side gentrified, forcing blacks to move elsewhere.
Gentrification is a well-practiced strategy that has been used successfully nationwide. City officials, for example, in San Francisco, Chicago and other cities have used similar tactics to move blacks out to make neighborhoods more attractive to whites who loathe the idea of having African-American neighbors.
Only six percent of Austin’s 2016 population of 947,890 was black. The black population had been dropping for de