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The Latest: Police defend downplaying 1st package bomb

Authorities investigate the scene after multiple explosions in Austin on Monday, March 12, 2018. Police are responding to another explosion Monday, that badly injured a woman, hours after a package bomb killed a teenager and wounded a woman in a different part of the city. (Ricardo B. Brazziell/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Latest on deadly package bombings in Texas’ capital city (all times local):

4:40 p.m.

Austin Police Chief Brian Manley is defending his department’s statements that initially downplayed the first of three package bombs that went off in the city as an isolated incident.

Manley said Tuesday that investigators at the time were working under the theory that a March 2 package bomb was related to a nearby house used to stash drugs that police busted a few days earlier. The explosion killed a 39-year-old Austin man.

After two more explosions happened Monday, police were criticized for not warning Austin residents to be on the lookout for suspicious packages. A second blast killed a 17-year-old teenager and a third one wounded a 75-year-old woman.

Authorities say they have received 265 calls about suspicious packages since the two explosions Monday. None turned out to be a threat.

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4:15 p.m.

A leader of Austin’s black community says the families of two people killed by separate package bombs knew each other.

Nelson Linder is the longtime president of the NAACP chapter in Austin. He said Tuesday that the two victims are related to well-known members of the black community in Texas’ capital city.

Authorities say 17-year-old Draylen Mason was killed Monday by an explosive left on his doorstep. The teen died nearly two weeks after 39-year-old Anthony Stephan House was killed by a similar package.

Linder says he doesn’t believe in coincidences.

Austin Police Chief Brian Manley says authorities are offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest, in addition to a $15,000 reward already offered by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

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1:55 p.m.

Police say there have been no major developments in their investigation of three package bombs sent to homes in Austin, Texas.

Authorities say they plan to hold a news conference Tuesday afternoon to provide an update on the probe, but there have been no significant changes.

A package bomb left on a doorstep killed a 39-year-old man on March 2. Two similar packages at separate homes Monday killed a 17-year-old boy and wounded two women.

Police have not identified the latest victims but said all were either black or Hispanic.

Austin Police Chief Brian Manley at first suggested that the attacks could constitute a hate crime. He subsequently appeared to back off that idea while still saying that authorities have not ruled anything out.

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10:15 a.m.

Austin police say they have received more than 150 calls reporting suspicious packages after three package bombs exploded at homes in less than two weeks in the Texas capital.

The police department tweeted the figure Tuesday. Authorities have urged people receiving unexpected packages to call 911 without handling, moving or trying to open them.

A package bomb left on a doorstep in Austin killed a man March 2. Two similar packages left at separate homes Monday killed a 17-year-old and wounded two others.

Investigators originally suggested that the attacks could constitute a hate crime because the victims were all black or Hispanic, but they now say they are looking at all possible explanations.

The FBI and other federal agencies are also investigating.

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12:55 a.m.

Three package bombs left on doorsteps in suburban neighborhoods have exploded in less than two weeks in Texas’ capital city, killing two people and wounding two others.

Police say the bombings in eastern Austin are likely linked. Two occurred Monday and one on March 2.

All the victims were minorities, and investigators are looking into whether race was a factor. However, they backed off initial suggestions that hate crimes could be a core cause.

The attacks unfolded as tens of thousands of visitors arrived for the busiest days of South By Southwest. The festival didn’t appear related to the incidents.

People receiving unexpected packages in Austin are being urged to not handle them and to call 911.

Copyright © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.



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