Austin Police Have Received 265 Calls About Suspicious Packages After Explosions

Mar 13, 2018

The Austin Police Department says it has received 265 calls about suspicious packages after two package bombings in Austin yesterday. None has turned out to be dangerous, APD said.

The two bombings in East and Southeast Austin killed 17-year-old Draylen Mason and severely injured his mother and a 75-year-old Hispanic woman. Interim Police Chief Brian Manley said the incidents are being investigated in connection with another package explosion that killed 39-year-old Anthony Stephan House in North Austin on March 2.

Police initially believed the March 2 incident was an isolated event, Manley said. At a news conference this afternoon, he said police thought the bomb may have been planted in retaliation for a raid on a drug house in the neighborhood three days earlier.

Manley said authorities were not going to "ignore the fact that the three victims were people of color," but said that doesn't mean the incidents are hate crimes. But, he said, investigators weren't going to rule that out as a motive, nor would they rule out terrorism. 

Mason attended East Austin College Prep and played bass in the nonprofit music program Austin SoundWaves. He had been accepted at UT's Butler School of Music.

In a Facebook post yesterday, former Austin City Council Member Mike Martinez recalled meeting Mason, calling him an "insightful and mature" young man.

The Washington Post first identified Mason as the victim in a report last night. The Post highlighted that both people who were killed are members of prominent African-American families in Austin.

Manley said Mason's mother, who was also injured in the attack near Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Springdale Road, was in stable condition. 

Manley would not identify the woman who was injured in the second blast yesterday, but said she was in critical condition with life-threatening injuries.

Manley implored the community to "be our eyes, be our ears." He said authorities were offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the bombings. That is in addition to the $15,000 reward Gov. Greg Abbott's office announced yesterday.

This story has been updated.