AUSTIN, TX — Police officials in Austin, Texas say they now suspect they are dealing with the work of a serial bomber after a fourth device injured two people Sunday night.
Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said during a Monday news conference that Sunday night’s device was linked to the three previous blasts, although the most recent bomb involved use of a trip wire. Three previous explosions resulted after packaged bombs were left on victim’s doorsteps.
“We’ve seen a change in the method this suspect is using,” Manley said.
Sunday night’s blast occurred just after 8:30 p.m. local time, when two bicyclists unknowingly setting off a tripwire in the southwest corner of the city. The pair sustained non-life threatening injuries and are expected to make a full recovery.
The unsolved package bombings earlier this month killed two and injured two others.
Authorities on Monday said the devices appear to be getting more sophisticated in design and asked residents of one neighborhood to stay indoors until 2 p.m. local time as they looked for clues as to the bomber’s identity.
“With this tripwire, this changes things,” Christopher Combs, special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Antonio division, said during Monday’s press conference. “It’s more sophisticated, it’s not targeted to individuals … a child could be walking down a sidewalk and hit something.”
“We are clearly dealing with a serial bomber,” Manley told reporters. “We will have to determine if we see a specific ideology behind this.”
Thad Holt, 76, who lives in the neighborhood in which the fourth explosion occurred, told Fox News the neighborhood is “very quiet,” and filled with families.
“We were surprised because it all had been concentrated on that side of town, in lower income neighborhoods but this is a real, nice neighborhood, nice homes, everything from retired people to professional people,” said Holt. “It’s a pretty crime-free neighborhood.”
Eliza May told CNN that although she had heard of the bombings earlier in the month, she didn’t pay too much attention until a device went off in her own neighborhood.
“We feel safe. This isn’t something that you’d expect around here,” she said. “It’s obvious that you have to be alert.”
“This was a random bomb,” May added. “This could have been any one of us.”
Authorities on Sunday said the reward for information leading to an arrest in the deadly explosions has risen to $115,000. Manley said more than 500 officers, including federal agents, have conducted 236 interviews and have followed up on more than 435 leads.
Anyone with information on the bomber’s possible identity are urged to contact the Austin Police Department, their local law enforcement agencies or the FBI.