Austin massacre now at random; an arrest does not appear close

AUSTIN, Texas – William Large said the last attack by a suspected serial bomber has terrorized Austin weeks of what turned out to be nails embedded in his grandson’s knees.

The police and federal agents said the explosion Sunday night activated along a street by a nearly invisible tripwire suggests a “higher level of sophistication” than they have seen in three early package bombs left on the doorsteps, and that means the massacre is now random, and not aimed at anyone in particular.

Two people were killed and four wounded, and the authorities are no closer to making any arrests in the four bombings that rocked the capital.

The authorities have not identified the latest victims, but told The Associated Press that his grandson was one of two men who were injured in the southwest of texas in Austin quiet Travis Country neighborhood. They suffered what police said were significant injuries and remained in hospital in stable condition.

Large said his grandson it is known, but still a lot of pain. He said that the night of the bombing, one of the victims was riding a bicycle in the street and the other was on the sidewalk when it crosses a trapwire that he said knocked “them both off their feet.”

“It was so dark that she could not tell, and she stumbled,” he said. “They didn’t see it. It was a wire. And it blew.”

Large said that his son, who lives about 100 yards (91 metres) away from the explosion, heard the blast and ran outside. “Both of them are kind of terrible bleeding,” said Large.

That was a departure from the three previous bombings, which involved the plots on the left of the thresholds, which explodes when they are moved or opened.

The tripwire twist elevated the fear around Austin, a city famous for its cool, hipster attitude.

“It’s creepy,” said Erin Mays, 33. “I’m not afraid person, but this feels very neighbor-to-neighbor kind of things.”

Authorities repeated prior warnings about not touching unexpected packages, and also published in the new to be wary of a stray object left in public, especially one with wires sticking out.

“We are very concerned that with tripwires, a child could walk along a sidewalk and hit something,” Christopher Combs, FBI agent in charge of the bureau’s San Antonio division, said in an interview.

The police originally pointed to possible hate crimes, but the victims have now black-Hispanic-white and from different parts of the growing diversity in the city. Terrorism is one of the variety of possible motives investigators are looking into.

The local and federal police and hundreds of federal agents to investigate, and the reward for information leading to an arrest has increased to $115,000.

“It is clear that We are dealing with what we believe to be a serial bomber at this point,” Austin police chief Brian Manley said, referring to the similarities between the four bombs. He would not elaborate, though, that he does not want to undermine the investigation.

While the first three bombings all occurred east of Interstate 35, a portion of the city that tends to be more heavily in the minority and less affluent, Sunday was west of the highway. The differences in where the explosion occurred, is the absence of a motif and other unknowns make it difficult to draw conclusions about a possible pattern, further unnerving a city on the edge.

Thad Holt, 76, said he now look at his work as he by a part of the city, in the vicinity of the last attack. “I think everyone can now say, ‘Oh, that’s like my neighborhood,” he said.

Fred Milanowski, agent in charge of the Houston division of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said the latest bomb was anchored to a metal yard sign in the neighborhood of the head of a hiking trail.

“It was a thin wire or filament, a type of fishing line,” he said. “It would be very difficult for someone to see.”

Milanowski said authorities have checked more than 500 leads. The police asked anyone with surveillance cameras in their houses to come forward with the images on the chance that they caught suspicious vehicles or persons.

Noel Holmes, whose house is about a mile away, was shocked by how loud the Sunday of the explosion was.

“It sounded like a very nearby cannon,” Holmes said. “We went outside and heard the sirens, but it was creepy. You had not the feeling that you have outside.”

Spring break ended Monday for the University of Texas and many of the area school district. University police warned returning students to be alert and to tell their classmates about the danger, saying, “We must look out for one another.” None of the four attacks happened close to the campus near downtown Austin.

The PGA’s of Dell Technologies Match Play tournament is scheduled to begin in Austin on Wednesday, and dozens of the world’s best golfers were to start arriving.

“I’m pretty sure that the tour has enough security to keep things safe in here. But this is scary what’s happening,” said golfer Jhonattan Vegas, already in the city.

Andrew Zimmerman, a 44-year-old coffee shop employee, said the use of a tripwire adds a new level of a presumption of professionalism and makes it more difficult to protect against such attacks.

“This makes me sick,” he said.


Associated Press writer Jim Vertuno contributed to this report.

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