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Austin Mayor Steve Adler Discusses Series Of Bombings Happening Throughout City


It has happened again. This morning at a FedEx processing center about 60 miles from Austin, Texas, a package exploded. It's the fifth such bombing this month. Two people have been killed, and four others have been injured. The package that exploded along with a second package with a device that did not detonate were sent by the same person.

Steve Adler is the mayor of Austin where most of the explosions have taken place, and he is with us now. Mr. Mayor, it's a pleasure to speak with you again. I'm sorry about why, but thank you for joining us.

STEVE ADLER: Absolutely.

MARTIN: Do the investigators think the bombing this morning is connected to the first four in Austin?

ADLER: The first one appears to be linked, yes.

MARTIN: The obvious question, though, is why? Do you have any sense of that? Why? What's the motive here?

ADLER: You know, we don't know a motive at this point. And, you know, the investigators are working really hard to try to identify the folks that are responsible. And there are literally hundreds - over 500 people here in Austin from federal agencies alone. All the resources that can be brought to bear are being brought to bear. But we don't know at this point. And quite frankly, they're trying not to telescope down, the theory being that if they do that, they might overlook questions that they should be asking or not seeing things that they should see.

MARTIN: You know, after the first bombing, the police chief initially said that this wasn't terrorism, that this was an isolated incident. There was even the implication that the first victim himself might be at fault. Now, the chief has since apologized for any such implication, but I am wondering why the chief was so sure of that at the time and whether that assumption led to a delay in taking this as seriously as it obviously deserves.

ADLER: I think what the chief says is that he wasn't coming to those conclusions - an answer to a question not too dissimilar from the question that you asked. He commented that that was something that they were looking at. But he's looking at all things. And he later, you know, apologized for the way that he answered that question because he didn't stress enough that they were looking at all things at that point, not having precluded anything. And that's still where we are.

MARTIN: Is it still - the suggestion has been made that this could possibly be a hate crime given the demographics of the people who were initially affected. Is that still something that is under consideration?

ADLER: You know, at this point, they're not ruling out anything and gathering as much information and data as they can. You know, the events that happened today add to the concern that people are feeling in the community. They add to the anxiousness, but they also give us more information and data and more evidence.

MARTIN: And you mentioned the concern that people understandably are feeling about this. Could you just tell us a little bit more about what you're hearing from your constituents? What are they saying to you?

ADLER: Well, I think everybody here wants answers to questions. They want whoever's responsible identified, and they want this to be over. And what we're doing is we're focusing on the things that we can do. Law enforcement has asked us all to pull together, to get each other's backs, to be basically the eyes and ears for law enforcement, to identify suspicious things that people see if things appear like they're out of place.

We're telling people that if you see something that raises a question in your mind about whether you should report it or not, the very fact that you're having that debate means that the answer is yes. And you should pick up the phone and call 911. And that's what we're doing, and people can pull together to do that. And I think everybody is - it's good for everyone to hear that there are so many people that are involved, that this is the - you know, not only the state but the national priority at this point.

MARTIN: All right. Steve Adler is the mayor of Austin, Texas. Mr. Mayor, thanks so much for speaking with us.

ADLER: Yes, take care. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.