Hours after authorities processed a fourth blast site in Austin, city police have announced a serial bomber is at large. Experts have looked at the facts provided by Austin police and compiled a profile on the perpetrator. Here’s a profile on the Austin Bomber based on what is known about the serial package bombings.
A Background on the Austin Explosions
Austin has been struck by a series of explosions in March. The package bombings occurred in residential areas.
The first explosion on March 2 killed Anthony Stephan House, 39.
Two explosions within hours of each other on March 12 killed Draylen Mason, 17, and injured two women.
Also Read: Timeline of the first 3 Austin Explosions
House and Mason were black. The investigation revealed that their families knew each other from activism in the city’s African-American community.
The victim of the third bombing, a 75-year-old woman, was Hispanic. Given the victimology, investigators weren’t ruling out the possibility of this being a racially-motivated hate crime.
On Saturday (March 17), Trevor Ingram was arrested for making a bomb threat. The threat forced Live Nation Music to cancel The Roots’ music event in the city.
On the night of March 18, a fourth explosion in a residential neighborhood was reported. Two people reportedly suffered non-life threatening injuries. Authorities waited until daylight so they could thoroughly process the blast site.
The findings led Austin Police Chief Brian Manley to give an alarming press briefing. Law enforcement believes there might be a serial bomber active in the city.
Profile on the Purported Austin Bomber
- The most recent explosion was triggered by a tripwire. According to Manley, the mechanism suggests a level of sophistication and randomness that was absent in the previous three bombings.
- Though the fourth bombing appears to be different from the previous package explosions, authorities said there are similarities in the four incidents.
- Manley said that the construction of the fourth bomb, and the components used, are similar enough to the previous bombs.
- The fourth explosion injured two men, aged 22 and 23. They were walking along the sidewalk and triggered the bomb sitting near a fence.
- Among the six victims reported in the four explosions, the latest two are not people of color. That rules out the possibility of this crime being racially motivated.
- Though all four explosions occurred in residential areas, the first three were more targeted. The explosive packages were left outside specific homes and exploded when the residents opened them.
- The first three bombings took place in East Austin, an area that is historically dominated by minority communities.
- The fourth explosion occurred in southwest Austin, in an upper-middle-class neighborhood.
- The differences in the most recent bombing have led authorities to investigate the possible motives behind it.
- Chief Manley has urged the perpetrators to communicate with authorities and explain the “message” they are trying to convey with these bombings.
Briefing regarding explosion in Southwest Austin https://t.co/j2HwQsrse8
— Austin Police Dept (@Austin_Police) March 19, 2018
Experts Give Their Opinion
- Fred Burton, a chief security officer with geopolitical intelligence platform, Stratfor, gave his deductions on the bomber terrifying Austin.
- According to Burton, the “crafty” bomber is watching all the developments on the news and “the timing is very curious in light of that.”
- He claims the suspect is familiar with bombs and has military experience.
- He suggested that the bomber changed the method because he probably delivered a lot of forensic evidence in the first three explosions, “which are probably a mercury or tremble switch of some sort designed to detonate when picked up.”
- Burton said that bombers usually fit a particular profile. There’s a possibility that the bomber is a white male who lives in the community.
- The motives could be different but make perfect sense to the perpetrator, Burton said. “There is a method to his madness as well as exactly why he’s chosen these specific venues.”
- Experts are amazed by the sudden switch in the devices in response to the publicity this case is getting. Scott Stewart from Stratfor suggests that the bomber might change tactics again.
- Burton believes the locations of the bombings appear to circle the city. He predicts the next bombing might be somewhere north of the fourth location.
- James R. Fitzgerald, a former FBI profiler who handled the infamous Unabomber case, said the tripwire device suggests the bomber “wants to strike out at some perceived wrong, and anyone who gets hurt is of no consequence to him.”
- He said the bomber’s motive could be to create terror or distract from the real intention. He cited the 1989 Walter Moody bombing case, where Moody killed an attorney to misdirect the police.