ATF trains Texas officers to identify explosives

There has been an increase in the number of Texas police officers signing up for ATF explosives training classes following the Austin serial bombing case. 

The course helps officers know what clues to look for when they respond to the scene of an explosion to help find a possible suspect.

Molotov cocktails, dynamite and c4 are some of the threats local police officers are learning to identify. 

“Fortunately, it doesn't happen very often, but we need to be prepared for when it does,” said Round Rock Police Det. Patrick Turck.  

For many officers, that training came into play in March at addresses around Austin. 
ATF Explosives Enforcement Officer Alex Guerrero was the lead bomb technician during the case. He's using what he learned during and prior to that investigation to help train local and state law enforcement. 

“The things that we're teaching the students here is no different then what we did in March during the Austin investigation,” Guerrero said.  

Guerrero points out small differences in each blast, like the color of the smoke, which can tell investigators what type of explosive was used. He also focuses on what kind of evidence could lead detectives back to a suspect. 

“It's a science, it's an art in a lot of ways, knowing what you need to collect on scenes like this,” said Turck.  

“You never know when the smallest information, when it might crack a case,” Guerrero said. 

Officers will spend the rest of the week working to reconstruct and examine the components used to make each device. 

“Just because you have an explosion doesn't necessarily mean that all the evidence is going to disappear,” said Guerrero.  

As the ATF knows all too well, there are many different ways to make a bomb. 

“For anybody that wants to be destructive, unfortunately, if they have access to the internet, they can find pretty much anything that they want to create a destructive device,” Turck said.  

The ATF said the blasts in the demonstrations used some of the same components they discovered in the bombs that went off in Austin. They did not identify which components those are. 

The ATF holds the explosives training course twice a year in Texas.