Austin package explosions: More than 150 suspicious package calls in wake of blasts

AUSTIN -- Austin police say they have received more than 150 calls reporting suspicious packages after three package bombs exploded at homes in less than two weeks in the Texas capital. The police department tweeted the figure Tuesday. 

Authorities have urged people receiving unexpected packages to call 911 without handling, moving or trying to open them. CBS Austin reports that the data shows residents are heeding the warning -- only two suspicious package calls were recorded by the department the previous Monday, the station reports.

austin package explosion
The scene of a deadly package explosion in Austin, Texas, on Mon., March 12, 2018. KEYE-TV

A package bomb left on a doorstep in Austin killed a man March 2. Two similar packages left at separate homes Monday killed a 17-year-old and wounded two others.

The department cautioned it may take some time to respond since they are flooded with reports, but still encouraged residents to call about any suspicious packages.

"It's not time to panic, but it's time to be vigilant and it's time to pay attention, it's time to come together as a city and solve this," Austin police chief Brian Manley said Monday.

East Austin resident Mariano Sanchez, who lives near the home where the latest package bomb exploded, said he's no longer letting his grandchildren open mail.

"It could happen to anybody. It could happen to me, to her ... it could happen to my next door neighbor -- anybody," Sanchez told the station.

In the two fatal incidents, the packages were also left apparently in the overnight hours and opened by the resident in the early morning hours, Manley said. All three of the packages were apparently left at the doorstep and were not delivered through the postal service or another carrier service, according to Manley.

Investigators originally suggested that the attacks could constitute a hate crime because the victims were all black or Hispanic, but they now say they are looking at all possible explanations.

The FBI and other federal agencies are also investigating.