Mystery Bomber Targets Texas

A member of the ATF bomb squad removes an object from a postal drop box in Troup, Texas, March 25, 2010. An object resembling a pipe bomb was found in a mailbox in front of the small east Texas post office, the second such incident in three days, authorities said.
AP/Tyler Morning Telegraph

by Emily Rand, an Associate Producer of the CBS News Investigative Unit in New York.  

Two more "suspicious devices" were discovered in a blue post office collection box and a mailbox in East Texas yesterday afternoon.

They are just the latest in a terrifying series of homemade devices found in East Texas post office boxes over the past several months.

According to documents obtained by CBS News, at least 17 devices ranging from pipe bombs and Molotov cocktails to "hangman style" nooses, have been found in United States Postal Service collection boxes and mailboxes since March 9 of this year. U.S.Postal Inspector Amanda McMurrey said they have been finding the devices since January 1.


The investigation is ongoing, but officials say the construction of the devices indicate the incidents are connected.


"The vast majority of these incidents are linked based on the perpetrators' method of operations," said Tom Crowley, spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.


Collection boxes outside the main post offices in Tyler, Marshall, Laird Hill and Longview have been targeted, as well as several other East Texas collection boxes and customer mailboxes.


Though the ATF hasn't yet released the total number of devices that have been found, Crowley says the number has been "substantial."


The ATF, which is working the case with USPS, has dispatched additional units to East Texas to scour surveillance video and follow leads.


"This is a priority investigation for both the Postal Inspection Service and the ATF and we are leaving no stone unturned," Postal Inspector McMurrey said.


In the wake of yesterday's discoveries, ATF and USPS raised their reward for information relating to the persons responsible for the devices from $10,000 to $25,000.


To date, officials say there is no suspect in the case.


So far none of the devices have detonated and all have been safely disabled. Although several devices have been active, bomb squads have determined others to be hoaxes.  


Anyone with information regarding suspicious activity around blue collection boxes or the person(s) responsible for these acts can contact the Postal Inspection Service's East Texas Tip Line at 817-359-2719, or the toll-free number, 877-876-2455, option 2.


Incidents in March:

March 9, 2010

Six Crude IEDs were found in collection boxes at six locations in the Longview, TX area.

In addition, ATF reported up to 20 additional devices have been placed at other locations not associated with the mail and postal facilities.


March 15, 2010

Four "hangman's nooses" were found inside collection boxes in Gladewater, TX, the main post office in Tyler, TX, the SE Crossing Finance Unit in Tyler, TX, the Azalea Station in Tyler, TX. In addition, five Molotov cocktails were found outside Henderson main Post Office.

March 23, 2010

Two Molotov cocktail devices discovered in Marshall TX, one outside the Marshall Main Post Office, the other in a collection box on E. Travis St.


March 25, 2010

Pipe bomb found in a collection box in front of Troup, TX Post Office.


March 30, 2010

IED device found in customer mailbox in Henderson, TX.


March 30, 2010

IED found in a USPS collection box in Longview, TX.



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