FBI Searches for Surveillance Footage of Austin Bomber at FedEx Store
Unlike the first four bombs, Tuesday morning's deadly parcel may have left a trail to the attacker.
AUSTIN, Texas—Law enforcement officials are looking for surveillance footage of a FedEx store in suburban Austin where a bomber may have sent out his latest deadly package, local business owners told The Daily Beast.
Rep. Michael McCaul, a Republican who represents Austin and chairs the House Homeland Security committee, told the AP that federal law enforcement said it has obtained surveillance footage that “could show” the bomber.
The FedEx office on Brodie Lane in Sunset Valley, just outside of Austin city limits, was cordoned off after police said it may be the origin shipping location of a bomb that exploded early Tuesday morning at a FedEx sorting facility just outside of San Antonio. Police said the package sent from the Austin area was addressed to a location in Austin.
Just a few hours after the explosion, federal officials were already at the FedEx store in Sunset Valley, said Candice Melitzer, a manager at Orange Theory Fitness, which shares the same building.
Agents asked Melitzer about footage from the fitness center’s security cameras, but Melitzer told them the cameras were recently installed and hadn’t been turned on yet.
FBI agents were still clustered in the parking lot of the strip mall on Tuesday afternoon.
“They came in here and asked if we had any cameras pointed over there,” said Robert Holden, a manager at Factory Mattress, situated diagonally opposite to the FedEx store. “I just sent them to my IT guy.”
One other nearby business, Poke Austin, which only opened a week ago, also had not yet set up its cameras to record, the owner told The Daily Beast. FBI officials did approach the store’s employees to ensure them they were safe.
Tuesday’s explosion was the fifth in two weeks, likely from the same suspected bomber who has been terrorizing Texas’ capital city with a combination of random and targeted attacks.
The first bomb, which killed 39-year-old Anthony Stephan House, was hand-delivered to his front porch on March 2. Ten days later, 17-year-old Draylen Mason was killed and his mother was injured by a similar package bomb. That same day, a 75-year-old woman was wounded when she opened a package that was placed at her front door.
The fourth bomb wounded two men on Sunday evening in southwest Austin, but this time used a tripwire detonator anchored by a yard sign. Experts say the change in design shows the bomber had a higher level of skill and sophistication than previously believed.
After Tuesday morning’s explosion, FedEx released a statement confirming that the “individual responsible” for the facility explosion “also shipped a second package that has now been secured and turned over to law enforcement.” It was not immediately clear if that package was the same one the FBI said was located at another FedEx facility near the Austin airport on Tuesday.
“We are sending all of the evidence to the ATF lab in Quantico, and they are conducting all of the blast analysis of the evidence we have recovered,” Austin police Chief Brian Manley told the Austin city council on Tuesday. “They are reconstructing these devices.”
Ken Casaday, president of the Austin Police Association, told The Daily Beast that the manpower spent on the search for the Austin bomber is unprecedented—at least in his two decades on the force.
“I know numerous people who are working 30-60 hours of overtime just on this stuff,” he said.
“These are very, very, very complicated cases,” Casaday added, noting that the size and scope of the crime scenes involved have added to the already intense forensic demands of bomb investigations.
“It’s just crazy how many people this takes,” he continued. “Everyone's just got their nose to the grindstone and trying to get this thing solved as soon as they can.”
"Everyone's on pins and needles,” Casaday said. “It’s taking a toll on everybody, and that's not going to get any better until this guy gets caught.”