Bombing spree prompts warning for package handlers

WASHINGTON — Federal authorities who responded to a string of package bombs in Austin, Texas, are warning the public to take extra precautions when handling them.

“The FBI has reached out to our private sector partners to remind them of established protocols of how to handle suspicious packages,” said FBI spokesperson Lindsay Ram in a statement.

The FBI sent alerts March 20, a day before Mark Anthony Conditt, 23, of Pflugerville, Texas, blew himself up as police closed in. Conditt delivered packages to shipping facilities and private homes — and even left one in the street — that exploded killing and injuring those who came into contact with them.

Conditt left a cellphone message admitting to building seven such packages.

Package carriers, bus and trucking associations were among those specifically alerted by U.S. transportation authorities about the signs of suspicious packages as well as protective measures.

A spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration told WTOP package handlers should watch out for some obvious signs.

“Liquid leaking from the package, unusual odors, and packages without a return address are examples of things we recommend to look for,” said Matt Leas.

He added, “There are a number of measures package handling facilities can take, but it really comes down to being observant, assessing if there’s a threat and then reporting it to the appropriate place” by calling 911.

Other businesses and organizations were notified as well and strictly advised to immediately call 911 as soon as they see a suspicious package.

“The FBI continues to advise the public to remain vigilant and not touch, move or handle any suspicious packages or unknown packages and to call law enforcement when they believe they have received a suspicious package,’ said Ram.

The FBI also says if an unexpected package arrives form an unknown sender, don’t touch it — call 911.

The FBI has posted information on its website providing guidance relating to suspicious packages.

J.J. Green

JJ Green is WTOP's National Security Correspondent. He reports daily on security, intelligence, foreign policy, terrorism and cyber developments, and provides regular on-air and online analysis. He is also the host of two podcasts: Target USA and Colors: A Dialogue on Race in America.

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