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Package Explosion In San Antonio Could Be Linked To Austin Bombings

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Another explosion in Texas - a package bomb exploded early this morning inside a FedEx distribution center near San Antonio, and authorities say they believe this latest explosion is linked to a series of bomb blasts in Austin, Texas. Joining us now from member station KUT in Austin is reporter Nadia Hamdan. She's been covering these explosions in and around Austin for the last three weeks.

Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.

NADIA HAMDAN, BYLINE: Of course.

GREENE: So what's the latest this morning?

HAMDAN: So basically, you probably have as much as we do in regards to this particular explosion. We found reports early this morning that a package was sent to an Austin address, on its way headed to Austin, exploded in a FedEx facility in Schertz, Texas. That's about 50 miles southwest of Austin. And this is according to the FBI and local law enforcement. It happened around 12:30, maybe 1 a.m, that the explosion happened. And one person was treated and released at the scene. That's according to Schertz Police Department. But it looks like it was a very minor injury.

GREENE: So this is why the authorities are thinking it might be related to Austin - because this was a package that was addressed to go to Austin.

HAMDAN: Yes. Actually, multiple outlets are reporting that it was sent from Austin to an Austin address. So FBI Special Agent Michelle Lee spoke to us and said she does believe and the FBI does believe that the explosion is likely connected to our overall investigation into the bombings that have been happening over the past month.

GREENE: Nadia, even before this morning's explosion, the authorities were already saying this is a serial bomber they are dealing with, someone who seems to be growing more sophisticated. At least, I mean, I know we don't know the clear link to this one this morning. But the four so far - where does the investigation stand into those?

HAMDAN: Yes. So because the one - well, the one late last - sorry - the one that happened the night before around...

GREENE: It's, like, late Sunday night, right? This was...

HAMDAN: Yes.

GREENE: ...The tripped wire, the two...

HAMDAN: The trip...

GREENE: ...People near the hiking trail?

HAMDAN: Yes, thank you.

GREENE: Yeah.

HAMDAN: So the one that happened - that because there was a tripwire used, it looked very different from the three prior to, which were actually packages put on the porches of people's homes. So now they're saying that this looks to be way more sophisticated. It's changing the way that this person is actually creating and having the bombs explode, which is leading us to be on hyperalert. FBI special agent in charge Christopher Combs said the use of the tripwire alters how the bombs are being investigated now because it's changing it from a more targeted approach to a more random approach.

GREENE: And initially, the first few incidents, there was some suggestion that this might be racially motivated hate crimes. Is it still looking that way?

HAMDAN: Well, initially, because the first three bombings happened in an east Austin neighborhood that's known to be - a majority of people of color live in those neighborhoods, so we had initially thought that it might have been a hate crime. That is what the law enforcement said that they were not ruling out. So far, they still say that that is not ruled out, even though the tripwire bomb that happened yesterday - or, sorry, again, on Sunday night - it's all starting to blur together.

GREENE: I can imagine...

HAMDAN: ...Unfortunately (laughter).

GREENE: ...After covering a story like this, yeah.

HAMDAN: Yeah. They're saying that was in a majority-white neighborhood, and two white males in their 20s were the ones that were injured. So now it's changing a little bit. But FBI and law enforcement are saying they still are not ruling out a hate crime or terrorism at this particular moment.

GREENE: What's it like in Austin right now?

HAMDAN: You know, Austin is known to be one of the safest cities, and so this is really jarring for many people. I think the thing that is most jarring, you know, outside of the obvious horrific events of people's lives being lost - I think it really is just very confusing as to why this is so targeted or calculated, it seems, but now it's turning into a randomized approach. It's just leaving us with more questions. And yeah, it's been a difficult time, to say the least.

GREENE: Nadia Hamdan is a reporter for KUT in Austin joining us this morning, reporting on another explosion at a FedEx distribution center in San Antonio. The authorities think this might be related to the bomb blasts we've already seen in Austin, Texas. Nadia, thanks a lot.

HAMDAN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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