AUSTIN, March 14 — Two victims of a parcel bomb that exploded on Monday at a house in Austin, Texas, were identified as 17-year-old Draylen Mason and his mother, the city’s police chief said yesterday.
Mason, who was African-American, was killed and his mother was injured in a blast at their east Austin home that police believe was one of a string of related attacks in the state capital that may be hate crimes.
“He was an outstanding young man who was going places,” Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said of Mason.
The teen’s mother, who is in her 40s but whom he did not identify, was in stable condition, he said.
Mason was a talented musician with the Austin Youth Orchestra where he played double bass, according to the Austin American-Statesman newspaper.
A 75-year-old Hispanic woman seriously hurt in a second package explosion in east Austin on Monday remained in critical condition with life-threatening injuries, Manley told reporters.
The attacks sparked heightened security at Austin’s South by Southwest Festival of music, technology and film, which draws hundreds of thousands of out-of-town visitors.
The explosions came 10 days after another package bomb killed Anthony Stephan House, a 39-year-old black man, at his home in the Harris Ridge neighbourhood about 19km northeast of downtown.
The blast was powerful enough to blow out a wall at the home’s entryway.
Manley said Monday’s blasts were of a similar force, causing “traumatic penetrative injuries” and a “concussive wave.”
No motive has yet been found for the blasts, which occurred when parcels left overnight in front of residences in three separate neighborhoods were moved or opened, Manley said.
“We are not saying that we believe terrorism or hate are in play, but we absolutely have to consider that,” he said.
The police are offering a US$50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case.
That is on top of a US$15,000 reward offered by the Texas governor.
Police have received 265 calls about suspicious packages since the three parcel bomb attacks, but authorities had not found any more suspicious parcels, Manley said.
“We are all scared. If you get a package, don’t open it, man,” said Julian Pina, 56, who lives about 100 yards from the spot where the bomb went off that injured the 75-year-old woman in the working-class Hispanic neighbourhood of Montopolis. — Reuters