Austin, Texas is on edge after three package bombings were reported this month. The explosions, which occurred in separate homes, killed two and injured three. The investigation revealed new details. Authorities uncovered a connection between two of the victims’ families. Read all about the new development here.
Three Bombs, Many Questions
Three explosions occurred in Austin in separate homes this month. The first was on March 2, when a package explosion killed Anthony Stephan House, 39.
Two other explosions occurred hours apart on March 2. The first blast killed Draylen Mason, 17, and injured a 40-year-old woman. The other explosion left a 75-year-old Hispanic woman critically injured.
According to police reports, the victims found the deadly packages at their doorstep. They were not delivered by a mail service.
Victims of the first two families were black, the third victim was Hispanic, and all explosions occurred in areas populated with minorities. Investigators are looking into this as a possible hate crime.
Further investigations uncovered that two out of the three families targeted in these explosions were acquainted each other.
17-year-old Mason found the package outside his home on Monday morning. He opened it in his kitchen when it exploded, killing him and injuring his mother. The teen’s grandfather, Norman Mason, is a dentist who’s well-known in east Austin.
According to Nelson Linder, the president of the Austin chapter of the NAACP, Norman Mason was a good friend of Freddie Dixon. Dixon was the stepfather of Anthony Stephan House, the victim of the March 2 bombing.
Both Mason and House were black and connected through local activism in the community.
“I don’t believe in coincidences,” Linder said about the connection between the victims.
Business records indicate that Freddie Dixon was a prominent personality in the local African-American community. He was a leader of Austin’s African American Cultural Heritage District, or “Six Square.” The city defines Six Square as six square miles of east Austin that was originally created as the Negro District by the Austin City Council in 1928.
In 2015, Dixon was quoted in a local publication lamenting the growing economic segregation in Austin.
“Austin is quickly becoming a city of the privileged and the non-privileged,” he told the Austin American-Statesman. “Is that the kind of Austin we want?”
Though the connection between the Masons and House was found, investigators haven’t found any ties to the third household so far.
Linder expressed the concern minority communities in Austin are feeling right now. “Given the fact these people are people of color, that definitely gets people’s attention,” he said. “They feel vulnerable, and they should based on the nature of the incidents.”
The FBI and other federal authorities are assisting local law enforcement in this case. Austin Police Chief Brian Manley is unsure if this development will impact the investigation in any way.
“Our detectives are currently looking at that to evaluate that lead and to see if it is in fact relevant to what we are investigating,” said the police chief.
Manley said it’s too soon to classify these bombings as a hate crime or an act of terrorism. However, they aren’t ruling out any possibilities.
Austin Police are wary of divulging too many details about the investigation knowing that the perpetrators could change their tactics in the future.