(CNN) — Austin police just confirmed what residents have feared for weeks — a suspected serial bomber is attacking their city.
For the fourth time this month, a device exploded on Austin residents. What makes Sunday night’s blast especially terrifying is that the device was left on the side of a residential road and triggered by a tripwire, police said Monday.
Austin Police: “We are clearly dealing with what we expect to be a serial bomber at this point,” pic.twitter.com/WCm7wai1cH
— News This Second (@NewsThisSecond) March 19, 2018
Investigators have found similarities between that device and three previous bombs, which were stuffed inside packages and left on residents’ doorsteps, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said.
“We are clearly dealing with what we expect to be a serial bomber at this point,” he said.
The latest device — which was triggered by a tripwire — shows “a higher level of sophistication, a higher level of skill,” he said.
And unlike the victims of the previous blasts, the two men wounded in Sunday’s explosion are white, Austin police said. Both men are expected to recover.
- The Travis Country neighborhood of Austin was on lockdown Monday, Manley said, as authorities investigate the pieces of evidence strewn across a wide area.
- Manley asked anyone in the neighborhood with security camera footage to call police.
- The Austin public school district says it couldn’t send buses to the affected neighborhood Monday because of police activity.
- “As the bomb maker changes up design and geography, all residents of Austin and surrounding areas should avoid suspicious items,” the global think tank Stratfor Threat Lens said.
An indiscriminate wake-up call
Many minority residents in Austin have been on edge since the bombings started, as the first three bombings killed or wounded minorities.
Several residents under lockdown Monday said they were stunned the latest attack happened in their neighborhood.
Unlike the first three bombings, which happened in east Austin, the latest attack happened in a predominantly white part of town.
Eliza May said because the first three bombings happening on the east side of the city, in predominantly minority areas, she hadn’t been following the news closely.
May said that as a resident of the affluent Travis Country neighborhood, she assumed she had nothing to worry about.
“We feel safe. This isn’t something that you’d expect around here,” May said.
Now, “it’s obvious that you have to be alert.”
“This was a random bomb,” she said. “This could have been any one of us.”
Neighbor Shonda Mace said the bombing “is going to be (a) life-changing event for our neighborhood.”
“I’m scared about what’s going to happen next,” she said.
Tripwire could give clues
“The use of a tripwire is far less discriminating than leaving parcel bombs at residences and suggests that the latest victims were not specifically targeted,” Stratfor Threat Lens said.
“The device’s success, despite significantly different design, further suggests that the bomb maker behind these attacks is an accomplished one, and has likely to have received some training, perhaps as a military or police explosive ordnance disposal technician.”
‘Extra level of vigilance’ needed
The latest blast came less than a week after police said the three previous explosions — in a span of 10 days — were connected. Those blasts killed a man and a teenager, and wounded two others.
The victims in those three explosions were African-American or Hispanic. Police have not discovered a motive, but have not ruled out the possibility those bombings could be hate crimes.
Police are working under the belief that the explosions are related. Manley said they’ll get a better idea with a post-blast analysis and examination of the device components.
In the meantime, Manley told residents not to touch or go near anything that looks suspicious.
“We now need the community to have an extra level of vigilance and pay attention to any suspicious device — whether it be a package or a bag, a backpack — anything that looks out of place,” Manley said Monday. “Do not approach items like that.”
Shortly before the fourth bombing, the reward for information leading to the arrest of anyone responsible for the three blasts increased to a total of $115,000, authorities said.
Officials have urged residents to call police with any tips they may have, even if the information seems to be “inconsequential.”
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Teen Found Guilty Of Killing Shopkeeper Over Cigarette Papers
A teenager found guilty of the killing of a family man outside his Mill Hill shop after he refused to sell cigarette papers to him and his friends has been sentenced to four years’ imprisonment.
The 16-year-old from Brent was sentenced at the Old Bailey today [Friday 7 September] after being convicted of the manslaughter of Vijaykumar Patel on Monday, 9 July.
An investigation was launched after officers were initially called at about 23:45hrs on Saturday, 6 January by the London Ambulance Service to reports of a man who had been assaulted and injured on The Broadway, NW7.
Vijaykumar, 49, from the Colindale area was taken to a central London hospital for treatment but died during the evening of Monday, 8 January.
Detectives found that the victim had been at work in the shop on the evening of Saturday, 6 January. Three teenage boys came into the shop and tried to buy some items including cigarette papers. Due to concerns about their age and a potential breach of licensing laws they were refused service after they were unable to provide suitable identification.
The three were unhappy about the decision and became aggressive, threatening to vandalise the shop.
Vijaykumar and a colleague went outside after them to ensure no damage was done to the shop. The youth continued to be aggressive challenging the pair to a fight and being abusive.
Vijaykumar did not move towards or gesture at any of the group; he only went outside to ensure his shop would not be damaged. While he was waiting for them to move on he was struck by the 16-year-old boy with force across his neck causing him to fall to the floor and suffer catastrophic head injuries.
The colleague was also punched by the teenagers. He suffered minor injuries, but did not require hospital treatment.
A post-mortem examination held at Northwick Park Hospital Mortuary on Thursday, 11 January gave the provisional cause of Mr Patel’s death as head injuries.
An investigation was immediately launched by officers from the Homicide and Major Crime Command. Forensic analysis was completed at the extensive crime scene and local CCTV footage from inside and outside the shop captured those involved.
They were circulated to local CID officers and detectives, and arrested two days later on Monday, 8 January. The youth refused to cooperate with police and answered “no comment” to even the most basic questions put to him.
Two boys – [B] aged 16 and [C] aged 15 – were arrested after they attended a central London police station on the evening of Wednesday, 10 January. They were subsequently bailed.
The 16-year-old [B] was given a youth caution on Thursday, 22 March for a Section 4 Public Order Act offence in relation to his actions towards the shop owner and witness. The 15-year-old [C] was released with no further action on all matters on Friday, 19 January.
Detective Chief Inspector Luke Marks, from the Homicide and Major Crime Command, said: “It beggars belief that a family man with two kids has lost his life over an argument about cigarette papers that got out of hand. This was an unprovoked spontaneous incident sparked entirely by the refusal to let the suspects buy what they wanted.
“A man has lost his life for no reason other than trying to uphold the law, which is there to protect everyone – including young people.
“I would like to praise the work of the team who built a strong case, and the victim’s family and friends who have conducted themselves with the utmost dignity.
“Vijaykumar was a loving son, brother, father and husband, and his family are left mourning his death, wondering how someone could use such abhorrent and casual violence. I hope this conviction will bring some sense of justice to the family who have been devastated by Vijaykumar’s murder. He truly was a decent, hard-working family man who in no way contributed to his own demise.
“I would like to add that the local policing team in the Mill Hill area are in regular contact with business owners and other members of the community. Since this attack, officers have been meeting local retailers to provide reassurance and crime prevention advice. Officers will continue to engage with the business community to gauge any concerns they have.”
Man jailed for Grenfell fire fraud and drugs offences
A man who fraudulently obtained over £80,000 of funding that had been made available to those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire has been jailed at Isleworth Crown Court.
Yonatan Eyob, 26 (05.07.92) of no fixed address was sentenced today, (Friday, 7 September), to three years and four months’ imprisonment after pleading guilty on 30 July to one count of fraud by false representation in relation to the Grenfell Tower fire.
Eyob was also jailed for a further three years and four months – making a total of six years and eight months’ imprisonment – after pleading guilty on 6 July to the further offences of:
– possession with intent to supply class A drugs (MDMA);
– possession with intent to supply class A drugs (cocaine);
– possession with intent to supply class B drugs (ketamine);
– possession with intent to supply class B drugs (cannabis);
– possession of criminal property.
The court heard how at the time of the fire, Eyob lived next to Grenfell Tower at an address in Hurstway Walk. However, he claimed he lived within Grenfell Tower in order to claim hotel accommodation and money – in total he fraudulently claimed £86,831.55.
Officers investigating matters of fraud linked to Grenfell Tower identified Eyob as a suspect and officers attended the hotel where he was being accommodated to arrest him. On entering the room, they found a large quantity of class A and class B drugs; over 120 wraps of MDMA, 89 wraps of cocaine, 30 wraps of Ketamine and 17 wraps of cannabis.
Eyob was further arrested for drug offences.
The drugs carried a street value of over £6,500. £3,000 cash was also seized as criminal property when officers discovered the drugs.
Detective Superintendent, Matt Bonner, the senior investigating officer for Operation Northleigh, said: “It is ironic that Eyob would have legitimately qualified to financial support if he had just told the truth as at the time of the fire he was living in a residence that fell within the Grenfell Tower footprint.
“However, he chose to concoct a story which he knew was false in a bid to obtain money and accommodation.
“His fraudulent acts were further compounded when officers found quantities of drugs within the hotel room he had been given to stay in.
“Eyob now must face the consequences of his actions with considerable time in jail.”
2 dead, 4 critically injured after active shooter incident in downtown Cincinnati
Police in the US city of Cincinnati say they’ve responded to an active shooter situation at a building downtown.
The Cincinatti Police Department said in a tweet on Thursday they were investigating an “active shooter/officer involved shooting” at the Fifth Third Bank, which is located in the city’s Fountain Square, a busy meeting place.
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