A “tripwire” next to a fence was used by what authorities suspect is a “serial bomber” to set off the fourth explosion that occurred in Austin, Texas on March 18, 2018, this one injuring two men who were either riding or pushing bicycles on the sidewalk. That angle was confirmed by the police chief. In the other three March 2018 explosions, people picked up packages that exploded.
“We have seen similarities” between the most recent device and the three earlier explosions, the police chief, Brian Hanley, said in a March 19 news conference. “The big difference in this device is that we believe a tripwire was used in this device,” the police chief said. “The believe that we are dealing with someone using tripwires shows a higher level of sophistication and a high level of skill.” They aren’t clear whether it’s terrorism or hate crime related or whether the bomber has another motive.
The notion that a tripwire might have been used this time is also terrifying because it would mean that the bomber, if it’s the same person, has shifted tactics in a way that seems random. Wrote one local resident on Twitter: “As someone a few miles away, this last one with a tripwire on the other side of town really amped it up a notch. Going to have a freaked out city for awhile.” A tripwire is a wire that activates a device when someone comes into contact with it, such as tripping on it, authorities said. They said the two most recent victims were “Anglo males” ages 22 and 23 who are in stable condition but suffered significant injuries. The two men who died in the previous blasts were African-American from prominent families.
In a press conference held at 1:30 a.m. on March 19, the police chief had first broached the possibility of a tripwire, saying, “We have a safety message we want to get out to our community… there have been reports in the media that this device was triggered by a tripwire, and we are here to say that is a possibility. We understand that those reports are out there, and it is very possible that this device was activated by someone either handling, kicking or coming in contact with a trip wire that activated the device. So that changes things in that our safety message to this point has been about the handling of packages…we now need the community to have an extra level of vigilance and pay attention to any suspicious device whether it be a package, a bag, a backpack, anything that looks out of place, and do not approach it.”
The chief said initially that the tripwire was unconfirmed because police are waiting to process the scene in daylight, but “the possibility exists that this device was triggered in a different mechanism, that being a tripwire, and that’s something that’s very important for this community to understand so we can all remain safe as we work through this investigation.” The chief also said that school buses won’t be sent into the neighborhood where the latest device was found. Police are also asking residents in the area around the blast to stay in their homes on Monday morning, March 19, until 10 a.m., while police work to clear the area. People with emergencies who need to leave their residences are asked to call 911.
“We’re working on the belief they’re connected,” the chief said when asked whether the latest explosion was related to the other ones. However, he said laboratory tests will be needed to confirm that. The chief also confirmed that the explosion was from a “bomb.” When asked whether nails were used, he said, “These explosions are using different projectiles.”
Two television stations and a prominent newspaper in Austin earlier reported the possibility that a tripwire was used, but police did not confirm the information for several hours. Police scanner traffic did mention trip wires.
“Be aware…we’ve got trip wires there in the grass. They’re going to…pull them back. We’ve got some more stuff active right there,” an officer says at one point to dispatchers. You can listen to that moment in the scanner here. It comes at about 6:45 in.
CBS local interviewed neighbors who told them about a possible tripwire. Jordan Bontke, CBS Austin television reporter, wrote on Twitter, “Resident who lives near tonight’s explosion says police txt her to stay inside. She said other neighbors are hearing reports of police investigating at tripwire.”
The Austin American-Statesman newspaper reported that “some neighbors reported they had been told the explosion was the result of a trip wire…”
KVUE-TV’s president and general manager, Kristie Gonzales, also wrote on Twitter that KVUE had heard the explosion might have been set off by a tripwire. “We are hearing that a trip wire set off this 4th explosion. Waiting for confirmation from @Austin_Police. @KVUE,” she wrote.
Other variations of the tripwire account say that it was on a real estate sign in the neighborhood. But this was not verified. In his first press conference after the latest bomb exploded on March 18, the Austin police chief did not provide any details about the bomb/explosive device or how it was set off.
The chief did confirm that two more people were injured from an explosion that occurred on March 18, and he said that police were checking out a second device, a backpack, in the area to make sure it was not another bomb. Residents in the area were asked to stay indoors while police cleared the neighborhoods around the blast.
The other bombs that have exploded in Austin, terrifying the community, were not trip wires. They were package bombs.
You can listen to the police chief’s press conference from earlier in the day here. He urged the bomber/bombers to turn himself or herself in.
The unknown bomber or bombers terrified the Austin community with the explosions that have killed two people – Draylen Mason and Anthony Stephan House – and injured four more people. The bombing that was reported on March 18, 2018 makes four total explosions in the month of March.
The first bombs arrived in cardboard packages and exploded when they were opened. “What caused this in these instances was a suspicious package that no one was suspecting or expecting,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said before the latest blast.
Mason and House were prominent members of Austin’s African-American community. An unidentified woman of Hispanic heritage was also wounded in another blast. Before March 18, there were three explosions, two dead and two injured, and authorities suspected they were connected to the same bomber. A reward exists for information leading to the apprehension of the bomber or bombers.
The police chief tried to send a message to the bomber before the March 18 explosion occurred, saying that he hoped the person or persons would “reach out to us before anyone else is injured or killed. We want to understand what brought you to this point and listen to you.” The response? Another explosion occurred.
The Austin police chief also said in a March 18 news conference of the latest incident, “We have two victims who have been transported to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries.” But he said police wanted anyone in a half mile radius of the explosion to stay inside their homes, at least until daylight, and police deem the area safe. “Do not touch any packages or anything that looks like a package,” he said. “It’s obvious it has been an explosion. It’s obvious it has caused significant injuries to two people.”
The latest bombing injured two men in their 20s, according to emergency management officials. “FINAL: Critical Incident @ 4800blk Dawn Song Dr (correct incident address), Only 1 incident location has been confirmed. #ATCEMSMedics have transported X2 ~20’s Males to SAMC w/serious, but not expected to be life-threatening injuries. Refer all inquires to @Austin_Police,” wrote Austin-Travis County EMS on Twitter of the second bombing on March 18.
The county EMS initially reported another explosion on Eagle Feather Drive. However, it later turned out that this explosion was believed to be the same as the first one.
The two men who died in the previous explosions had everything to look forward to in their lives.
Anthony Stephan House died when a package arrived at his home and exploded on March 2. He was the first victim of the bomber. House, 39, lived in the Harris Ridge neighborhood of Austin, Texas. A package arrived at his home in the early morning hours, and it contained a device that exploded when the package was opened. House was the married father of a young child.
Draylen Mason, 17, was the second victim to die in the package bombs that were delivered to Austin homes. “Mason was killed Monday morning when a package exploded in the kitchen of his Austin home as it was being opened. His mother is in stable condition,” CNN reported. Mason was a talented musician. According to his Facebook page, he was a Bassist at Interlochen Center for the Arts, Principal Double Bass at Austin Youth Orchestra, and Principal Bassist at Austin Soundwaves. He went to East Austin College Prep and was from Austin, Texas.
On March 12, another explosion “severely wounded a 75-year-old Hispanic woman. Her name has not been released. She was in critical condition,” CNN reported. She was the third victim. The woman found a mysterious package left outside her home. She picked it up and it exploded before she opened it, according to The Los Angeles Times.
You can learn more about House here: