Austin on alert as police field hundreds of suspicious package calls

Austin

With the bombing suspect apparently changing tactics, Austinites are taking heed when it comes to reporting packages that seem out of place. 

The Austin Police Department says from 8 a.m. Monday, March 19 through 8 a.m. Tuesday, March 20 it received 420 suspicious package calls.

Since Monday, March 12, police have responded to more than 1,250 calls. In the KXAN newsroom, viewers sent in Report Its about police activity throughout the city and possible suspicious packages.

In most of the cases, that suspicious item turned out to be an empty box or an abandoned suitcase. That was the case at the Arbor Trails Whole Foods. The Whole Foods was evacuated for a couple of hours as authorities used a special x-ray machine to look inside the suitcase. 

Michael Gonzales works in the Arbor Trails shopping center and he lives on the east side, so he’s in the middle of all the recent bombing activity.

“There’s a heightened state of uncertainty now,” says Gonzales. ” I live in east Austin. I work in southwest Austin and these are the areas where they’ve been targeted.” 

Police Chief Brian Manley has been urging everyone to remain vigilant and report any suspicious packages or activity, even if it might seem arbitrary.

Since the serial bomber’s methods keep changing, lots of people are wondering what to look for next.

“I think the more recent attacks have been pretty random, which is also scary because it doesn’t seem like they’ve identified any pattern for people to be aware of or avoid,” says Bernadette Cameron who lives and works in downtown Austin.

Emma Weir feels the same way. “It’s been really difficult to know where is safe because there’s just been this change in MO,” says Weir who saw the intersection of Brazos and Fourth streets get evacuated Tuesday afternoon due to a suspicious package. 

Anyone with information is urged to contact the TIPS Hotline at 512-472-TIPS (8477). There is currently a $115,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest. 

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