When a bomb exploded on a porch in north Austin on March 2, severely injuring 39-year-old Anthony Stephan House, his next-door neighbor ran to help.
Sean Philips and paramedics did what they could, but House died later at the hospital. He would become the first victim of a series of homemade bombs placed around Austin over the course of three weeks that killed two people and injured four more.
House’s young daughter is best friends with Philips’ daughter.
“It was impossible not to put myself in his shoes and think what I would want for my kids if they were in that situation,” Philips told KXAN in an interview this week.
In the days that followed, even as bombs were going off elsewhere in the city, Philips’ focus turned to supporting the family he was getting to know better in the wake of tragedy. He wanted to do something to give House’s daughter an escape.
“To me, it was very important that she have some of her childhood returned to her after the bomber took that from her,” he said.
Philips, a volunteer for the nonprofit group RestPit, which provides harm reduction supplies at shows and festivals, got in touch with Scott Barr, the organization’s chief of operations.
“I have the tools and the ability to do it, and I kind of thought that it needed to be done,” Barr said.
The two worked out a benefit show happening this Sunday, called “Music, Love & Crawfish.” Fourteen bands will take the stage at Empire Control Room and Garage on 7th Street downtown starting at 3 p.m., and the benefit will include art installations and crawfish paella.
The organizers hope the show is therapeutic for the entire city, not just the House family. The bombings put a “dark cloud” over Austin, Barr said, that hasn’t quite lifted.
“We wanted really to literally put some love back into the community,” he said.
Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door, and the proceeds will go to House’s family to fund a summer trip for his daughter and wife, a way for the two of them to get away from the home that became a crime scene.
“I just hope that they get to start making some new memories,” Philips said, “to replace the really, really bad memories they’ve had this year.”