[guest post by Dana]
Another explosion occurred in Austin on Tuesday evening, hours after one package exploded and another containing an explosive device was intercepted by law enforcement at FedEx facilities near that city and near San Antonio, authorities said.
The Austin Fire Department said on Twitter shortly after 7 p.m. local time (8 p.m. ET) that it was on the scene at a “reported package explosion” and that there was “one reported injury and crews evacuating building.”
Austin emergency management said medics transported a man in his 30s, and the injuries are not expected to be life-threatening.
Austin Police Dept. said that at this time they don’t believe this bomb is related to the string of bombs that have recently exploded in the city:
There was no package explosion in the 9800 block of Brodie Ln. Items inside package was not a bomb, rather an incendiary device. At this time, we have no reason to believe this incident is related to previous package bombs.
Note: If this is connected to the serial bomber, this will be the sixth bombing since March 2. Early Tuesday morning, a package moving through the FedEx ground sorting center in Schertz exploded.
Four bombs have killed two people and injured others in Austin since March 2, with the most recent on Sunday believed to have been triggered by a tripwire that injured two people, authorities have said. In most of those bombings, packages left on doorsteps or in front yards exploded, officials said.
This notes a significant change in how authorities are looking at things:
“With this tripwire, this changes things,” Christopher Combs, special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Antonio division, said at a news conference on Monday, referring to the previous day’s explosion. “It’s more sophisticated, it’s not targeted to individuals.
A child could be walking down a sidewalk and hit something.”
Law enforcement believe the serial bomber is sophisticated and organized:
Danny Defenbaugh, a former FBI bomb technician who helped supervise more than 150 bombing investigations including the 1995 Oklahoma City attack, said such serial campaigns are unusual and can take years to solve.
“In my experience, you are looking beyond a person who simply searched the Internet for how to build these things,” Defenbaugh said.
Defenbaugh said the devices involved in the explosions — and the range of apparent sophistication — probably has investigators trying to narrow a field of possible suspects who have some formal engineering experience in the military, law enforcement or from other sources.
“That fact that someone could build these devices, including the one with the tripwire mechanism, and not blow himself up, that means something,” Defenbaugh said. “That’s why they have hundreds of people working on this.”
Weldon Kennedy, a former FBI deputy director, called the Austin serial bombings “highly unusual’’ and a challenge for the army of federal and local authorities who have descended on central Texas.
There are currently 350 FBI agents in Austin, as well as additional bomb squads.
Additionally, Gov. Abbott has released emergency funds to purchase x-ray machines to be used to help inspect packages:
Texas Governor Greg Abbott today announced an additional release of $265,000 in emergency funding to help assist bombing investigations in Austin after four attacks this month in that city. The money will be used to purchase technology that will aid law enforcement in assessing package safety.
The Emergency funding will be made available “for the Austin Police Department (APD) and the Texas Ranger Bomb Response Team to purchase seven portable x-ray systems for use in bomb detection and responding to suspicious package investigations,” the governor’s office said in a news release Monday. “These x-ray systems are used by bomb technicians on-scene and provide clear visual evidence for rapid assessment of a package’s safety.”
According to the release, several of these units are already in use by “Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technicians.”
Prayers for the families who have lost their loved ones, and for anxious residents. Also, prayers that law enforcement locate and arrest the suspect before anyone else is killed.
(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)
UPDATE BY PATTERICO: Numerous outlets are reporting that the suspect is dead by one of his own bombs, after being identified and approached by police.
UPDATE BY DANA: You can read about the suspect here.