A series of bombings in the city of Austin, Texas, this month, put residents and police on high alert. It also complicated school schedules and student transportation.
The first three bombs, which were enclosed in packages, killed two Austin residents and injured two more. The fourth incident happened on Sunday night in the neighborhood of Travis County in southwest Austin. According to Interim Chief Brian Manley of the Austin Police Department, two men may have triggered a tripwire to set off a bomb that injured them.
The suspect blew himself up early Wednesday as police closed in. Authorities said they have now located all bombs.
Following the tripwire incident, police locked down the neighborhood and asked residents to stay in their homes until 10 a.m. local time on Monday morning, while the area was swept. Nearby private schools, such as Regents School of Austin and St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, operated on a delay or were closed on Monday, in order to allow police to sweep the campuses and canceled after-school athletics.
Austin Independent School District released information to parents, through a Facebook post and in a police news conference, that school buses could not run in that area due to police activity. “Any tardies or absences due to this situation will be excused,” the district added. Buses ran normally on Tuesday.
“The whole district is on high alert, especially transportation,” Kris Hafezizadeh, Austin ISD’s director of transportation, told STN on Tuesday. “We do more walkarounds in the terminal, we have secured more gates, we are more diligent about safety, we watch for any suspicious activity or packages—and if we see any, we call 911 and our district police.”
He said that beyond the changes on Monday, no other modifications have been made to student transportation routes. “We are in direct contact with our police department. They will let us know, and if we have to make any modifications or detours, then we will make it happen,” he said.
“If something’s going on that may impact transportation of our students to and from school, either walking or biking or the school bus, we are involved and make sure we do whatever we can,” Hafezizadeh added.
The fifth bombing occurred Tuesday morning, when a package exploded in a FedEx facility in San Antonio, injuring one worker. Austin police said that over 500 agents and their teams are investigating the bombings, including their department, the FBI, Texas Department of Public Safety, and bomb technicians from both the San Antonio and Austin police departments. A total of $115,000 in reward money was offered for anyone who provided information.
Police are urging residents to stay away from suspicious packages and alert law enforcement if any are noticed. Austin ISD called for parents to reiterate to their children the advice that police gave, and tightened security measures on school campuses as well.