Austin police search for bombing motive, say explosives made with ‘skill and sophistication’

Recent package bomb explosions in Austin (The Washington Post)

By Mark Berman and Matt Zapotosky | Washington Post

Police and federal investigators continued searching Tuesday for answers about a string of packages that have exploded at homes in Austin this month, killing two people, seriously injuring two others and unnerving the city at a time when it is flooded with visitors for the South by Southwest Festival.

While police have not provided specific details about the explosive devices, they have said the three packages that detonated at three homes several miles apart over an 11-day span appear to be related — and the work of a person or people who know what they are doing.

Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said Tuesday that “the suspect or suspects that are building these devices” have been able to construct and deliver deadly bombs without setting them off at any point.

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“When the victims have picked these packages up, they have at that point exploded,” Manley said on KXAN, an Austin television station. “There’s a certain level of skill and sophistication that whoever is doing this has.”

Recent package bomb explosions in Austin. (The Washington Post)

Precisely what motivated the bombings — which include one explosion on March 2 and then two blasts Monday morning — remained a mystery Tuesday, though officials have said they do not believe there is any connection between the bombings and the festival.

Police have also said they are not sure if all of the people killed or injured were the intended targets of the explosives.

The most recent package to detonate injured a Hispanic woman who was visiting her mother’s home — but the package was addressed to a different home nearby, according to two people familiar with the investigation. The woman who was injured may have been walking the package over to that address when it detonated, these people said.

This suggests that the explosive was not necessarily aimed at the injured woman, who has been identified by her relatives as Esperanza Herrera. The other two bombs killed people whose families have connections, and one of those victims’ relatives said he did not know of any connections to Herrera.

The Post could not immediately learn, though, whether the other two packages were addressed to the homes that received them, or whether they had any markings at all. A spokeswoman for the Austin police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Relatives said Herrera was very close with her mother, Maria Moreno, and often stayed in her home overnight to help provide care. Jesse Barba, 77, a neighbor of Herrera’s, said he rarely saw her because “she was always helping out with her mother.”

“She used to come by and pick roses from my yard to take to her mother,” Barba said. “She loved them so much I gave her a piece of the bush.”

Police have told the community to use caution, telling residents to call 911 if they see …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Nation, World


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