How police investigation into first package explosion changed over time
When a package exploded at a Haverford Drive home killing 39-year-old Anthony House on March 2, Austin police said they believed there was no further threat to the public.
“What we had was a singular event that had taken place in this community that was very unique. We had no information to believe that it was related to a larger plan at that time,” said Interim Chief Brian Manley with the Austin Police Department.
Manley said, at that time, detectives had a theory the attack stemmed from a raid at another home on the same street where police recovered a large amount of money and some marijuana two weeks prior.
“That house looks very similar in color, and the vehicles were very similar as well, and we believed that this may have actually been a retaliatory act for the raid that we did on that house and that they simply got the wrong house,” Manley said.
The man whose home was previously raided was questioned by homicide detectives for about two hours that day. FOX 7 Austin spoke with that man's lawyer on Wednesday.
“It was a good lead and so to me they were just doing their due diligence to run everything down and they were just asking us every kind of question they could about if there was any connection between the victim and us and there really wasn't,” said defense attorney Mark McCrimmon.
McCrimmon said his client tried to convince detectives that their lead didn't apply in his case.
“We kind of just kept saying, ‘I know these people. I'm not the intended victim. it's not that kind of situation. With the marijuana business now money grows on trees, so it's not like that,’” McCrimmon explained.
Still, detectives believed McCrimmons' client was the intended target until a second explosion at a home on Oldfort Hill Drive about 10 days later. Then a third that same day five miles away on Galindo Street.
“Obviously, with the two next bombs, I think they're back to square one,” said McCrimmon.
After the new cases, police changed their tune and warned people everywhere.
“If you have a package that has been placed on your doorstep, in your yard, on your driveway, that you were not expecting, that does not appear to come from an official shipping source, then please call us and let us come and clear that package,” said Manley.
Tayo Castro with the New Underground Media Brigade wants to help provide some peace to the East Austin community following the explosions.
“The most important thing right now is to do something to make it clear that our community isn't going to be taken advantage of in this way,” Castro said.
That's why he is recruiting volunteers for a kind of neighborhood watch program.
“The main thing I want to do at the start is make sure that every street has at least someone that is able to look out during most times of the day,” said Castro.
Austin police, the FBI and the ATF have also stepped up their investigation, putting together a task force specifically focused on bringing in the person or persons responsible.
To volunteer with the New Underground Media Brigade visit their website.
There is also a combined $65,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in these cases. Tips can be submitted to Austin police or CrimeStoppers.