Authorities Defuse Bomb Found At FedEx In Austin After Another Explodes In Schertz
Two package bombs found at two separate FedEx facilities in Texas today are connected to a string of bombings in Austin, local and federal officials say.
One of the packages exploded early this morning at a FedEx distribution center in the San Antonio suburb of Schertz. The other package was found at a facility near the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. It is suspected that they may have been shipped from a FedEx Office store in Sunset Valley.
The first package was on an automated conveyor when it exploded around 12:30 a.m., Schertz Police Chief Michael Hansen said at a news conference this morning. An employee who was standing nearby complained of ringing in the ears. The employee was treated at the scene and released.
"We were very fortunate that there were no injuries," Hansen said.
A few hours after the explosion, APD responded to a call regarding a suspicious package at a FedEx depot near the airport on McKinney Falls Parkway. Authorities say the package contained an explosive device, which they dismantled. No injuries were reported.
Around 7 p.m., Austin-Travis County EMS responded to a report of an explosion at Brodie and Slaughter lanes. Authorities later reported that the explosion at a Goodwill was not a bomb but an "incendiary device."
#UPDATE: 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. #Breaking #packagebombmurders— Austin Police Department (@Austin_Police) March 21, 2018
At a news conference tonight, Austin Assistant Chief of Police Ely Reyes said the device was an "artillery simulator" – an old military memento. He said it was not related to the serial bombings.
An employee in his 30s who handled the device was treated at St. David's South Austin Medical Center and has been released.
Jerry Davis, president and CEO of Goodwill Central Texas, said the device flashed when the employee handled it and "everybody panicked. And as you know, if you're familiar with this area, everybody's just paranoid as hell that the next bomb is going to blow up at their house."
Congressman Michael McCaul, whose district includes Austin, told The Associated Press that investigators have obtained surveillance videos that "could possibly" show a suspect in the Schertz explosion. He said investigators are still poring over the recordings.
Law enforcement agents, meanwhile, conducted a sweep of the FedEx Office store in Sunset Valley.
Rich Andreucci, a lieutenant with the Sunset Valley Police Department, said the FBI had asked for assistance in keeping the parking lot clear around the store on Brodie Lane.
"They believe that the package that detonated in Schertz ... had been shipped from this store," he said.
Other businesses in the shopping center were cleared to open. The Sunset Valley Police Department said the FedEx store would be closed until the morning.
"There's no reason for us to believe anybody is in danger," Andreucci said.
Sunset Valley City Administrator Clay Collins also said there were no known public safety threats.
"However, residents should remain vigilant and report any suspicious packages, items, or occurrences by dialing 9-1-1," he said in a statement.
The explosion comes amid a string of bombings in Austin over the past three weeks. Two people have been killed and four others wounded.
Interim Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said APD is cooperating with federal authorities investigating the explosion. Austin police say they've fielded 420 calls about suspicious packages between 8 a.m. yesterday and 8 a.m. today, bringing the total number of calls to 1,257 since the morning of March 12.
Manley told the Austin City Council this morning that he believes the five explosions are connected.
When asked about the bombings today, President Trump called Austin "a tremendous place" and said what's going on is "absolutely disgraceful."
"The bombings in Austin are terrible," he said. "These are sick people, and we will get to the bottom of it."
This is a developing story.