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Austin Community Enacting New Security Measures After Series Of Bombings


Some breaking news now - there has been a sixth explosion tonight in central Texas. Police and paramedics are on the scene at a Goodwill store near Austin. But police say this latest incident involved an incendiary device that was not a package bomb. They say they have no reason to believe this is related to prior bombings. Earlier today, a package destined for Austin exploded in a FedEx facility, and officials found another package mailed by the same person that contained an explosive device. But that device had not gone off. Reporter Ashley Lopez of member station KUT went out to gauge how people in Austin are reacting.

ASHLEY LOPEZ, BYLINE: The folks who are most freaked out right now are people like Angel Torres. He lives just a few streets down from where one of the first package bombs exploded in southeast Austin.

ANGEL TORRES: I was really worried. Like, I messaged all of my friends that live in that area to make sure they're OK. I thank God, like, that they are OK and, like, none of them were hurt.

LOPEZ: Torres says ever since then, he's changed some of his behavior, making sure he's paying more attention to what's going on around him.

TORRES: I get out of class late at night. And I always, like, have my music going, like, blasting my headphones walking at night. So like, I'm definitely, like, going to, like, put the volume really low and, like, just have one earphone in and, like, always have, like, my phone on me.

LOPEZ: A lot of folks in Austin are on edge mostly because police haven't said much about what exactly people should look out for. The first three explosions were packages left on people's doorsteps, but one this past Sunday was a bomb placed by a sidewalk and set off by a tripwire. Jackie Rylander says she's worried this can happen at any place, at any time.

JACKIE RYLANDER: It seems like it can be anything now - backpacks. And it's not worth changing your whole life for. You've got to still live.

LOPEZ: And this is a common sentiment, too. Folks like David Didonato say, yeah, this is scary, but so are other things.

DAVID DIDONATO: How many people are killed by crossing the street? I mean, it's something to be worried about, but there's a lot of things to be worried about.

LOPEZ: A lot of people in Austin are also surprised this is happening in the first place. Brittany Taylor says this is out of character for a city known for being quirky and friendly.

BRITTANY TAYLOR: And it makes me sad honestly - like, more so sad and just kind of upset than freaked out that people would do this and take time out of their day just to hurt someone else. But it's just unfortunate. And then it kind of puts a stain on our city.

LOPEZ: So far police say they don't know who or how many people are involved in these bombings. For NPR News, I'm Ashley Lopez in Austin. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ashley Lopez
Ashley Lopez is a political correspondent for NPR based in Austin, Texas. She joined NPR in May 2022. Prior to NPR, Lopez spent more than six years as a health care and politics reporter for KUT, Austin's public radio station. Before that, she was a political reporter for NPR Member stations in Florida and Kentucky. Lopez is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and grew up in Miami, Florida.