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Could Bombings In Austin Texas Be Hate Crimes

pic via San Antonio Express

Police in Austin, Texas are warning the public Tuesday morning to watch out for an apparent bomber on the loose. Investigators now say three package bombs, including two that exploded Monday, are connected. Police say the case may be a hate crime. All the victims are black or Hispanic.

 

The explosions happened within about 15 miles of each other. Seventeen-year-old Draylen Mason died and another woman was hurt in an explosion Monday morning. A second blast about five hours later injured another woman. 

 

Anthony Stephan House was killed in the first bombing 10 days earlier. Debris extended 75 feet out – all the way to the driveway of the next door neighbor, who told CBS News' David Begnaud how he tried to keep the first victim alive.

 

"He collapsed right there," Sean Philips said. "About three feet in front of his front door."

 

House was bleeding from the face, had shrapnel in his chest, and both of his hands had been nearly blown off, according to his neighbor Sean Philips. He was the first to find House and tried to save his life.

 

"He wasn't even responding to his name. His eyes were open but he looked glazed over," Philips said.

 

House died from the March 2 bombing. His 8-year-old daughter was home at the time.

 

On Monday, 10 days after House's murder, police received reports of two more explosions. The first came in at 6:44 am.  A teenager was killed he unknowingly brought a bomb into his kitchen. The second call, at 11:50 am, involved a 75-year-old woman injured by a blast on her porch.

"This is not something that we have seen happen in our country for quite some time. And it's absolutely nothing that has ever happened in Austin," said interim Austin Police chief Brian Manley.

 

Manley says the explosives were disguised as packages left overnight near the victims' front doors.  

 

"We have had packages that exploded when the victim picked that package up. We have also had one where the victim actually picked the package up, brought it into the residence and opened it up and it exploded at that point," Manley said.

 

The package bombs were not mailed or sent through a delivery service, according to Manley.

 

"I've not seen anything that gives me reason to believe that this has links to terrorism at this point," Manley said. Asked if they were considering it a hate crime, Manley said, "We're keeping our focus as wide as possible so that we don't miss something by focusing too narrowly."

 

The Austin Police Department told CBS News Monday night 82 people have called to report a suspicious package in the last 12 hours. None of those were explosives. The Washington Post is reporting that the grandfather of one of the victims is good friends with the stepfather of another, but that is the only connection being reported so far.

-CBSNEWS

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