Interim Austin Police Chief Brian Manley says an explosion that injured two white men in their 20s in the Travis Country neighborhood in Southwest Austin was caused by a bomb. Authorities are "operating under the belief" that the explosion is connected to three package bomb explosions in Austin this month, Manley said.
Responding to reports that the bomb may have been triggered by a trip wire, Manley said it was "very possible" the bomb was activated by someone either "handling, kicking or coming into contact with a trip wire."
"We do believe, based on what we’ve seen, that this was a bomb that exploded," Manley said early this morning. "However, we are not believing that this is similar to the previous ones, as in packages left on doorsteps. But instead this was some type of a suspicious package that was left on the side of the road that detonated."
He said that possibility is changing the advice police are giving to people. They now say people should have an "extra level of vigilance" and be on the lookout for anything that looks suspicious — a package, a bag, a backpack or "anything that looks out of place."
Manley also announced that police are asking residents in the Travis Country neighborhood to stay in their homes until 10 a.m. Monday to give police time to do a thorough search of the neighborhood.
Update on explosion investigation with Chief Manley https://t.co/uMdIGx03Aj
— Austin Police Dept (@Austin_Police) March 19, 2018
The two victims were taken to St. David’s South Austin Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries. A hospital spokesman said they were in good condition.
At a press conference last night Manley said officials would not be able to deem the areas safe until daylight "given the darkness and the size of the area." He's added that APD will likely have an update for Travis Country residents at 10 a.m.
Due to the police activity, the Austin Independent School District said it would not be able to send buses into the Travis Country neighborhood Monday morning. Classes at Regents School of Austin are also canceled for the day. Additionally, St. Andrew's Upper School on Southwest Parkway has canceled classes for the day. Classes at St. Gabriel's Catholic School will be delayed until 10:30 a.m.
Speaking to KUT, Adler echoed Manley's call for caution, advising Austinites who see a suspicious package or backpack to keep their distance and call 911 immediately.
It's unclear if these incidents are related to three package bombings that killed Austinites Anthony Stephan House and Draylen Mason and injured two others, but Manley said investigators are "working under the belief" that they are connected. Manley added that it will take additional analysis of the blast site to confirm any possible connection.
The Austin Police Department has been working with the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and state law enforcement since two explosions last week. In that time, APD says it has fielded over 735 calls about suspicious packages.
State and federal authorities have offered a reward of up to $115,000 for any information related to the bombings.
This story has been updated.