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Austin Bombing Latest


There are major developments out of Austin, Texas, today. At this hour, police there are holding a press conference about the suspect in a series of bombings that has shaken the city. Authorities say the suspect has been killed in a standoff with police. Here's Brian Manley, Austin's chief of police.


BRIAN MANLEY: Late last night and early this morning, we felt very confident that this was the suspect in the bombing incidents that took place in Austin.

MARTIN: Joining us now, NPR's John Burnett from member station KUT in Austin, where he's been monitoring all this. Hey, John.


MARTIN: And I know you've been listening in on this press conference that is ongoing at this moment. But what can you tell us about how the suspect died?

BURNETT: So it all unfolded late last night and early this morning with lots of evidence that was streaming into all this army of federal investigators and the police who were looking into it. And they tracked the evidence back to the suspect's vehicle that was at a hotel in Round Rock, which is a city just north of Austin on I-35. So federal and local police set up surveillance around this suspect in the hotel. Then they saw that he got in his vehicle and started to drive away. At one point, he drove into a bar ditch and the Austin SWAT team approached the vehicle, and he blew himself up. One of the SWAT officers shot at him. The explosion injured another SWAT officer. But the suspect killed himself. They're not getting a positive ID yet. They're saying that obviously, you know, the body is heavily, heavily injured. They are waiting for positive ID from the medical examiner and the next of kin. And they're going to do an internal affairs investigation by the Austin Police Department because it was an officer-involved shooting.

MARTIN: So presumably investigators, since they were tracing him, they were looking into his profile, trying to figure out who this man was. Have they said anything about what they think may have motivated him?

BURNETT: Nothing about that yet. This is all really, really fresh, Rachel. I mean, we've been watching this press conference on the side of Interstate 35, you know, in Round Rock, with the entire southbound lane blocked and, you know, police cars everywhere. So it's...

MARTIN: It's unfolding.

BURNETT: ... That's certainly a big question to answer today, the why and who are behind this.

MARTIN: Right. Have police yet confirmed that this one suspect was responsible for all the blasts? Is that something that they've been able to say?

BURNETT: They haven't confirmed that he could've been working with someone else, also. But they feel like, you know, this certainly was the bomber. And the mayor was up there, and, you know, they're telling the city, you can, you know, breathe a sigh of relief, but also, this guy could have put more bombs out so continue to look for suspicious packages, keep calling 911.

MARTIN: Right. Because one of them, at least one, was, it was a tripwire, right? That could have been planted and provoked, triggered, remotely.

BURNETT: Right. And there's speculation that this guy, obviously, he was placing so many bombs so frequently, you know - we were sort of hearing about them day after day at one point - that he clearly had built these in advance and, you know, there could be more out there.

MARTIN: What's Austin been like the last few days, the last week, since this has been happening?

BURNETT: You know, I think people have been extremely wary of packages. My office is at KUT on the edge of the University of Texas. The university police have been everywhere because, you know, 50,000 students just returned from spring break. So I'd just say the city has been incredibly vigilant. Not panicked, though. You know, yesterday was the first day of spring. It was a beautiful day. You know, so people were going about their lives but definitely keeping an eye out like the authorities had told them to.

MARTIN: All right. NPR's John Burnett. We will have the latest on these breaking developments throughout the morning. John, thanks so much.

BURNETT: You're welcome, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As NPR's Southwest correspondent based in Austin, Texas, John Burnett covers immigration, border affairs, Texas news and other national assignments. In 2018, 2019 and again in 2020, he won national Edward R. Murrow Awards from the Radio-Television News Directors Association for continuing coverage of the immigration beat. In 2020, Burnett along with other NPR journalists, were finalists for a duPont-Columbia Award for their coverage of the Trump Administration's Remain in Mexico program. In December 2018, Burnett was invited to participate in a workshop on Refugees, Immigration and Border Security in Western Europe, sponsored by the RIAS Berlin Commission.