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Mistaken Target Theory Develops in Austin Bombings Investigation

Texas bombs likely connected; no obvious links among sites
Photo: Ricardo B. Brazziell/Austin American-Statesman via AP

Media reports indicate that investigators in Austin, Texas, are developing theories of what might have motivated a bomber or bombers to set off three explosions in residential communities this month. Some neighbors are offering possible motives for the attacks. The three bomb blasts left two people dead and two others seriously injured.

Reports claim that investigators are looking into the possibility that the 75-year-old Hispanic woman, Esperanza Herrera, injured in the third bombing might not have been the intended target. Detectives spoke with a woman who lives two doors away whose last name matches the name of the family victimized by the second bombing. While the neighbor shares the name “Mason” with 17-year-old Draylen Mason (killed in the second bombing), she is not related to the family, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

“They basically just wanted to know if I was a relative or married to one of them, if I was in any way associated with the family,” Erica Mason told the local newspaper. “If I was associated with the family, it could have been that they were trying to come after me.”

Austin NAACP President Nelson Linder says the attack on Herrera does not fit.

Linder says there is a connection between the Mason family and Anthony House, who was killed in the March 2 bombing a few miles away, Fox7 Austin reports.

“It’s pretty clear she was not the intended target which tells us, these people are dangerous but they make mistakes,” said Nelson Linder, Austin NAACP president.

House was the stepson of Rev. Freddie Dixon. The pastor served the Wesley United Methodist Church on Austin’s east side for 22 years, the American-Statesman reported. Dixon still attends the church which is also reportedly attended by the Mason family. He is also close friends with Draylen Mason’s grandfather. Both families are prominent in the city’s African-American community, the newspaper noted.

The current pastor of the church, Rev. Sylvester Chase, said police have not spoken with him about the bombings and possible connections to his church.

“We are not involved,” the pastor told the American-Statesman. “There’s a story, it’s just not here.”

The 152-year-old church, founded by freed slaves, is a foundational part of the community. The church hosted classes for Samuel Huston College (currently named Huston-Tillotson University) for several years. It also helped establish the Austin Area Urban League in 1977. The church joined the roster of the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

Residents of the Austin community continue to call in reports of suspicious packages as police have requested. As of Thursday morning, police received nearly 500 calls.

On Thursday, the Austin Police Department announced a $65,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a suspect or suspects.

Investigators are reportedly talking with local hardware stores about purchases of items that could be used in improvised explosive devices, KXAN reported. One store manager told the local NBC affiliate that ATF agents spent several hours looking at receipts and surveillance video. This particular store has nearly four years of video stored on DVDs, the manager stated.

Lowes told KXAN they are cooperating with the investigation. Home Depot referred the news outlet to federal officials.

Law enforcement officials continue to look into the background of the victims for connections or possible motives. The Washington Post reported that the FBI sent several profilers from Quantico along with bomb technicians and evidence gathering teams, Christopher Combs, special agent in charge of the San Antonio bureau told reporters.

Rev. Dixon told reporters on Monday that he believed: “My diagnosis: Number one, I think it’s a hate crime. Number two, somebody’s got some kind of vendetta here,” the Post reported.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTXGAB, and Facebook.

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