Families of 2 Austin package bomb victims knew each other


Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas

Families of two people killed by package bombs left on their doorsteps in Austin knew each other and were connected through local activism in the black community, a civic leader said Tuesday. But it was not clear how they might be tied to a third household where a package bomb also exploded.

Investigators have said the three blasts that killed two people and wounded two others could have been hate crimes since all the victims were black or Hispanic. But they also said they have not ruled out any possible motive.

Draylen Mason, 17, was killed and his mother wounded when a package bomb was opened Monday in their kitchen. The teen’s grandfather is Norman Mason, a prominent dentist in east Austin. He was friends with Freddie Dixon, stepfather of 39-year-old Anthony House, who died in a similar attack in another part of the city March 2, said Nelson Linder, president of the Austin chapter of the NAACP.

“I don’t believe in co- incidences,” Linder said, explaining that he was concerned by the fact that the families were acquainted.

Still unknown is what connection – if any – the two families had to a third household where another package bomb exploded Monday, wounding a 75-year-old Hispanic woman who remains hospitalized in critical condition but has not yet been identified.

Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said he was aware of the connection but did not know if it would affect the case.

“Our detectives are currently looking at that to evaluate that lead and to see if it is in fact relevant to what we are investigating,” Manley said.

Business records indicate that Dixon was a leader of Austin’s African American Cultural Heritage District, or “Six Square,” which the city defines as 6 square miles of east Austin that was originally created as the Negro District by the Austin City Council in 1928. He also was a longtime pastor at Wesley United Methodist Church, one of the city’s oldest historically black churches.

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