Austin is on edge after a series of package bombs were found around the city in recent weeks, and investigators are still scrambling to catch the perpetrator.
Grocery stores, apartment buildings and restaurants have been evacuated at a moment’s notice. Residents all around town are seeing more police yellow tape and hearing the sound of helicopters more often.
“This is terrorizing the city of Austin,” said Rep. Michael McCaul told President Donald Trump at a law enforcement roundtable on Tuesday.
At a police briefing on Tuesday, City Council Member Ann Kitchen said residents are coming to her and other city leaders with worries about the explosions.
“Part of that concern is … that this feels so random, feels like something out of their control, feels like something (where) they don’t know what to expect,” Kitchen said.
Sandy Orange was at her daughter’s cheerleading practice in Southwest Austin on Tuesday when school officials dismissed them, saying there was a possible explosion in the area.
Earlier, authorities were investigating a suspicious package at a FedEx facility near her workplace in southeast Austin. Hours later, they were closer to her home.
“I’m scared to death to even (send) my daughter to school in the morning,” Orange told CNN affiliate Spectrum News in Austin.
Staff members at local schools are inspecting every piece of mail, while parents like Christina Sabish make sure their children know what to do if they see a suspicious package.
“When people feel informed, they are not scared,” Sabish told CNN affiliate KXAN.
Residents have grown extremely cautious. In about a week, police say they have received around 1,200 calls reporting unattended backpacks, suitcases and boxes.
In the past three weeks, four explosions in Austin left two people dead and four injured. The explosions were reported in different areas of the city. Some were package bombs, and one was tripwire bomb. On Tuesday, a package exploded at a FedEx facility near San Antonio and another one was found before it exploded at another facility in Austin.
The fear is becoming overwhelming, some residents say.
“It’s been really difficult to know where is safe because there’s just been this change in MO (modus operandi),” Emma Weir told KXAN after seeing a popular downtown Austin intersection being evacuated due to a suspicious package.
As local and state police work with 500 federal agents work to catch the bomber, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said “it’s not time to panic.”
“This is home. We are committed. We are driven,’ Manley said. “We want to solve this because this is our community.”