Package Explodes Inside FedEx Facility near San Antonio — Unexploded 2nd Device Reportedly Found
by BOB PRICE
FBI officials responded to an explosion at a FedEx sorting facility near San Antonio, Texas, early Tuesday morning. One woman suffered a minor injury from the explosion that took place inside the sorting facility.
UPDATE 1:40 p.m.: FedEx officials confirmed that a second package was shipped by the same sender as the package that exploded on Tuesday morning, the Texas Tribune reported.
In a written statement, FedEx said it “confirmed that the individual responsible [for sending the first exploded package] also shipped a second package that has now been secured and turned over to law enforcement.”
Those packages appear to have been shipped from the FedEx store in SunsetValley near the site of Sunday night’s bombing that injured two people (see 11:30 a.m. update below), according to the local police department’s Facebook page.
UPDATE 11:55 a.m.: The Sunset Valley police chief told reporters that whoever “delivered” the package that exploded in Schertz Tuesday morning had to come into the Brodie Lane FedEx store as “there is no drop-off [box],” Austin American-Statesman reporter Mary Huber tweeted.
The chief said there are about 15-20 FBI and ATF agents at the store in his community.
UPDATE 11:50 a.m.: President Donald Trump called the Austin bombings “terrible” during a press meeting in the Oval Office Tuesday, ABC News tweeted. “This is obviously a very, very sick individual, or maybe individuals,” the president said. “These are sick people, and we have to find them as soon as possible.”
UPDATE 11:45 a.m.: Austin police officials tweeted that they have responded to 1,257 suspicious package reports since March 12 when two bombs exploded killing a 17-year-old young man and injuring two women.
UPDATE 11:30 a.m.: Police in Sunset Valley, Texas, are reporting a link between the bomb that exploded Tuesday morning at a FedEx facility in Schertz and a mail delivery office in thier community. “The FBI is currently investigating a confirmed link between packages involved in the Austin bombing investigation and a mail delivery office in Sunset Valley. It appears that the source of the suspect packages was a private package delivery office in Sunset Valley,” department officials posted on their Facebook page.
UPDATE 11:10 a.m.: San Antonio Chief of Police William McManus told reporters that a second device has been found at the FedEx facility in Schertz, Reuters reported. His department’s bomb squad is assisting in the investigation. He said the package has been safely removed from the building for further examination. The unexploded package could provide valuable clues not previously available to investigators.
McManus told reporters the second package, found at the same location, is loaded with an explosive device, the news agency reported.
Sunset Valley is located southwest of Austin about a mile from the scene of Austin’s fourth bomb explosion that occurred on Sunday evening. That explosion marked a “significant change” in the strategy and technology of the Austin serial bomber, Interim Police Chief Brian Manley said on Monday. That device used a tripwire instead of some type of motion trigger to detonate the device.
UPDATE 10:00 a.m.: Schertz Mayor Michael Carpenter and Police Chief Michael Hansen addressed reporters in Austin during a press conference Tuesday morning. They were joined by officials with the FBI and ATF.
Mayor Carpenter assured residents of the of his community that the FedEx facility and the City of Schertz were not targets of the bomber. Chief Hansen confirmed the timeline of the explosion and related that the San Antonio Bomb Squad responded to provide assistance after the explosion.
FBI and ATF officials provided very little information about the bombing. The officials stated they had just cleared the building as being safe to enter and that they were in the very early stages of this investigation.
FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge James Smith would not confirm any of the previously reported information about the Schertz explosion. He did reveal that the bomb was moving along an automated conveyor when it exploded. The woman who was injured was standing nearby when the bomb exploded. She reported “ringing in her ears” and was evaluated by EMS officials. She was later cleared and released.
ATF Acting Assistant Special Agent in Charge Frank Ortega also refused to provide or confirm any information. He said they were there to ensure public safety and that the ATF was providing every resource at its disposal.
UPDATE 8:15 a.m.: Officials with the Austin Fire Department tweeted that their Haz Mat team is investigating a “suspicious package” at a FedEx facility near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
Austin police officials have not released any information on this incident at this time.
ORIGINAL STORY FOLLOWS:
The FBI’s San Antonio Field Office tweeted that they responded with special agents from the Houston ATF Field Office to an explosion at a FedEx facility located in Schertz, Texas. Schertz is located a few miles northeast of San Antonio, near Randolph Air Force Base.
Officials told reporters that a medium size package exploded inside the sorting facility in Schertz. There were about 75 people inside the facility at the time of the explosion that occurred shortly after midnight Tuesday morning, KENS CBS5 reported. The CBS affiliate said one woman received a minor injury from the impact of the blast. Officials treated her at the scene.
The package originated in Austin and was addressed to be delivered back to Austin, KENS reporter Charlie Cooper stated. An FBI agent told the CBS reporter that “it’s more than possible” that this explosion is connected to the four bombs that have exploded in the Austin area this month. Those bombs killed two people and injured four others.
On Monday, Austin Interim Police Chief Brian Manley called the bombs the work of a “serial bomber,” Breitbart Texas reported.
The box reportedly exploded while moving along the conveyor belt. A woman was “slightly injured” from the impact of the explosion, Cooper reported. EMS responders treated and released the woman at the scene. All of the employees are being detained inside the perimeter so that FBI and ATF agents can question them for more information.
A statement from FedEx confirmed that a “single package” exploded and that a “team member” was treated for “minor injuries,” the Washington Post reported.
If this bomb is confirmed to be the work of the Austin serial bomber, it represents yet another evolution in tactics. The first three bombs appeared to be hand delivered to the front steps of homes in East San Antonio. On Sunday evening, a bomb exploded after the victims triggered a tripwire, Chief Manley stated. This would be the first package placed into a common carrier package delivery system.
KSAT and Fox San Antonio reported the package contained metal shrapnel and nails when it exploded, the Austin American-Statesman reported. A FedEx employee who was working inside the facility when the package exploded told the Austin newspaper that she heard a “loud, metal bang” shortly before supervisors ordered the employees to leave the facility.
The bombing campaign began on March 2 when a package exploded in northeast Austin. The explosion killed 39-year-old Anthony House. On March 12, a second package exploded when 17-year-old Draylen Mason opened a package left on the front steps of his home. The package exploded, killing him and injuring his mother.
A third explosion detonated a few hours later and sent a 75-year-old woman to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. Shortly after this explosion, Chief Manley admitted the bombs were linked.
Less than one week later, Austin’s fourth bomb exploded and injured two young men on Austin’s southwest side.
Responding to the news of the San Antonio-area blast, Chief Manley stated, “The Austin Police Department is aware of the incident that has occurred in Schertz, Texas, and is working closely on the investigation with our federal partners.” The chief urged Austin residents to pay close attention to any suspicious device “whether it is a package, a bag, a backpack, or anything that looks out of place.”
“Do not approach it,” Manley stated. “Do not move, touch , or open unexpected/suspicious packages.”
Editor’s Note: This is a developing story. More information will be added as it becomes available.