An incendiary device, not a bomb, was responsible for injuring a worker at a charity store, police in Austin, Texas, said Tuesday, and that the incident was not connected to a series of unsolved bombings in the area.
Assistant Police Chief Ely Reyes told reporters an employee at the Goodwill store was told to dispose of a box of items that included two small devices, one of which “initiated” when the employee handled it. Reyes described the item as “approximately 6 inches in length, almost like a 40mm-type artillery simulator device.”
He said there is no reason to believe it is related to the earlier attacks or the work of an attempted copycat, and he urged the public to continue reporting any suspicious packages to authorities.
Five explosions have hit the Austin area this month, killing two people and seriously wounding four others.
The latest happened early Tuesday morning when a package bomb blew up at a Federal Express shipping facility near San Antonio, about 96 kilometers south of Austin. One worker sustained minor injuries. Authorities said the package was headed to Austin and was related to the previous bombs.
Police also responded Tuesday to a FedEx facility outside the Austin airport to investigate a suspicious package and determined it contained an explosive and also was linked to the other explosive packages.
Possible hate crimes
Speaking at the White House on Tuesday, President Donald Trump said local, state and federal authorities are working together to solve the case.
“This is obviously a very, very sick individual or maybe individuals. These are sick people, and we will get to the bottom it, “ the president said. “We have a lot of power over there. We’re looking. Not easy to find. But these are sick people and we have to find them as soon as possible.”
Investigators say a package bomb that exploded late Sunday in Austin was set off by a tripwire and was “more sophisticated” than the three previous blasts earlier this month. Two men in their 20s were hurt.
FBI agent Christopher Combs said the use of a tripwire to detonate the bomb is different from earlier packages that were found outside people’s homes.
“It’s more sophisticated,” Combs said. “It’s not targeted to individuals. We’re very concerned that with tripwires, a child could be walking down a sidewalk and hit something.”
Police are also investigating the bombings as possible hate crimes. The first three explosions killed two African-American men and left a 75-year-old Hispanic woman fighting for her life.
Authorities have offered a $100,000 reward for anyone who can offer law enforcement agencies information leading to arrests and convictions of those responsible for the explosions.