LOCKHART, Texas (KXAN) — A Snapchat post by an employee of the Amazon fulfillment center in San Marcos that read, “Don’t go to Amazon tomorrow” along with a photo of three rifles led to the employee’s arrest.
Joshua Logan Hawkins, 19, was reported to police on March 9. In a Facebook post by the Lockhart Police Department Monday, officials say Hawkins, who has been charged with terroristic threat, lives in Lockhart.
After seeing the Snapchat post, police got a warrant for his arrest and a search warrant for his address.
Officers arrested Hawkins at his home and found three rifles inside.
Bond has been set at $1,500. He has been booked into the Caldwell County Jail.
In a one-on-one interview, Manley said up to 100 federal officials are helping Austin police investigate what led up to the three package explosions that claimed two lives and injured two other people.
Other than perhaps the most infamous mail bombing case of Ted Kaczynski — who, better known as the “Unabomber” for targeting people affiliated with universities and airlines, is currently serving a life sentence for his mail bombs spanning the 1970s to 1990s — has this happened before?
Manley: “I’m not aware of other major cities who have dealt with what we’re dealing with right now.”
Can APD handle the package bomb investigations and South by Southwest?
Manley: “What we’re seeing is exactly what we’d like to see in our city and our great state. And that is all of the law enforcement professionals coming together to work on this.” Since Austin doesn’t have enough K-9 units or bomb techs to work all three scenes and respond to suspicious package calls — of which APD received at least 82 on Monday — other departments have come to APD’s aid.
Do these explosions have anything to do with South by Southwest?
Manley says since the first bomb was before SXSW, he does not believe festival-goers are a target or the cause. The chief warned that they’re working against a person who knows what they’re doing.
“They’ve been successful in three incidents here in Austin that have resulted in two deaths and two severely wounded individuals and we’re not going to stop. We’re going to go all out with our federal partners, and we will not rest until we’ve identified the suspect and taken him into custody,” Manley said.
To watch the full interview with more answers to your questions, click on the video above.
Package bombs explode on a monthly basis across the world but most of it spurs from political groups in Europe and South America. Less so in the United States. The ATF investigated around 700 explosions in 2016 — the latest information available — but only three were hand placed inside boxes.
“Usually there’s a very specific target and there’s some type of criminal motivation behind it,” said Ben West, who’s spent the last 10 years studying parcel bombs as a security analyst for Stratfor. He says Americans have been mostly spared large-scale parcel bombings since the “Unabomber.”
From the mid-70s to the ’90s, Ted Kaczynski sent more than a dozen bombs, killing 3 and injuring more than 20. West says package bombs usually target individual people and are built to kill or maim, not to bring down a structure. He says whoever is making the Austin bombs aren’t amateurs.
“Because you can make a bomb then place it in a package and then rig it to explode at a specific time. So no, it’s not easy to do,” said West.
The vast majority of package bombs don’t go off as intended, he says, so the fact that each bomb has killed or hurt someone is alarming.
“That shows that the person who’s doing this, they know what they’re doing and they’ve probably practiced a lot,” said West.
West says the bomb 10 days ago was probably a test run for more to come.
AUSTIN (KXAN) — After two more explosive packages were left on Austin porches Monday, people across the city expressed their worries and talked about how to keep their homes safer.
Monday, Austin police investigators determined a package bomb that killed a teen and injured a woman was likely connected to a bomb that killed a man on March 2. Investigators say it appears the packages were placed on porches instead of being left by a delivery driver. APD believes these explosions are part of a pattern of incidents.
Austin police urged the public: if you receive a package you’re not expecting and don’t recognize the sender, call 911.
As of 6 p.m. on Monday, APD received 82 calls for suspicious packages — not including the calls about the explosions earlier on in the day. The calls started at 8:12 a.m. Monday morning and continued into the evening. APD is being cautious about all of them, but has not been advised that there was an explosive device in any of these. For comparison, APD received only two suspicious package calls on Monday, March 5.
A spokesperson for UPS delivery told KXAN on Tuesday that their company did not deliver any of the explosive packages and that UPS does not deliver packages overnight.
“UPS drivers wear the UPS uniform and announce themselves when making deliveries by knocking on the door or ringing the doorbell,” said Matthew O’Connor with UPS. He added that UPS offers additional tracking services and updates that allow customers to know if UPS is delivering something to their home.
“We do not believe this package was delivered by any of the official mail services, whether it be the US Postal Services, UPS, FedEx or DHL,” said Interim Austin Police Chief Brian Manley at a press conference Monday. “But that will part of the investigation. But standing here today we do not believe it was delivered by any official delivery service.”
Chief Manley added that the devices used in the recent explosions can detonate by being moved or opened.
“And that’s why I want to reiterate the importance of if you see something that’s out of place do not handle it, do not move it,” he said. “Do not touch it. Call us.”
He added that APD does not know when the packages on Monday were delivered, only that the victims saw the packages on the front porch, handled the packages in some way, and then the explosions happened. Chief Manley couldn’t go into specific sizes of the boxes, but he said they were “an average size, not exceptionally large.”
“What we do know is we have an individual who knows how to construct these [explosives] and cause serious loss of life,” Chief Manley said.
On KXAN News tonight at 9 and 10 p.m., KXAN’s Alyssa Goard explains how delivery companies recommend you handle packages and how neighbors around Austin are responding to these explosions in their city.
AUSTIN (KXAN) — How does our 21st-century technological society adapt to be as inclusive as possible for all citizens? A South by Southwest panel tackled this topic.
The panel, labeled “Minority Report: Engaging Kids of Color in Tech,” featured several founders of organizations that promote digital literacy for young people, particularly minorities.
During the discussion, the panelists said they want to ensure as Texas’ minority population continues to grow, tech companies promote diversity.
“We need to change the thinking because there is value in these programs that are specifically focused and engaged in cultural relevance say and how we are training the next generation,” Black Girls Code founder Kimberly Bryant said.
(Left to Right) Dalinda Gonzalez-Alcantar, founder of Border Kids Code, Laura Donnelly, founder of Latinitas, and Google Fiber representative Daniel Lucio, pose for a photo at SXSW in Austin on March 12, 2018. (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)
The panelists said they noticed kids responded best to robotics, virtual reality and gaming.
“It’s our responsibility to expose them so that they can pick sushi one day if they want or coding, or VR, or drones,” Dalinda Gonzalez-Alcantar, founder of Rio Grande Valley-based non-profit Border Kids Code. She said she and her coworkers tell people that their kids are trilingual, knowing English, Spanish and code.
Laura Donnelly is the founder of Latinitas, an organization with offices in Austin and El Paso. She said every part of society is affected by the tech world.
“Young Latinas are part of the largest population in the state of Texas, they are part of the fastest growing youth population, their point of view really should be driving industry, they really should be those at the lead of innovation,” Donnelly explained. “Media and technology are two of the most powerful platforms right now to influence attitudes, to create social justice, and so we are putting that power in the hands of Latina girls.”
Google Fiber representative Daniel Lucio moderated the discussion. He said the United States ranks 14th in the world for average internet connection speed. Lucio said 61 percent of Americans have internet slower than 10 megabits per second. He said the tech giant is working on more ways to help them access high-speed internet and other technological resources to people who do not have it available right now. Other panelists supported that goal.
“The internet cannot be looked at as an amenity,” Gonzalez-Alcantar said. “When we don’t get them even just access to the internet, let alone quality access to the internet you continue to oppress people.”
Audience members at a SXSW session on minority youth and technology on March 12, 2018. (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)