The Dispatch

Austin package bombs deliver violence to doorsteps

Victoria Newell, Managing Editor

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The foundation of Austin was shaken when six package bombs were detonated over the course of fourteen days. March 2 through March 20 was marked with 911 phone calls and smoke staining the sky, and James Bowie High School was not immune to the fear that violated the city.

According to Fox News and CNN, the suspect, Mark Anthony Concliff, detonated five bombs, disguised as packages, with four of them set off in neighborhoods, and the last one exploding in a FedEx facility in Schertz, Texas. The sixth supposed bomb, was actually an unrelated incident at the GoodWill location located just down the street from Bowie.

“You see all these things happening in other states and it’s crazy to watch that happen and you never think about it happening here it home,” student body co-president Mateo Huerta said.

On March 19 residents of Travis County and most Bowie students received an emergency alert from the Austin Police Department asking them to stay indoors until potential hazards are cleared, in response to the bomb on March 18.  The next day Austin Independent School District (AISD)  superintendent Paul Cruz sent out an email asking AISD families to be cautious and watchful of suspicious behavior

“Since this was a local threat to the community that developed quickly, and we had Spring Break in the middle of those 19 days, there wasn’t a direct response from the school district,” principal Mark Robinson said.  “Since schools had not been the target, we took the normal precautions that we do in a heightened state of awareness: notified students and staff of the threat on the announcements, monitoring exterior doors and security cameras, and enforcing normal security measures.”

On March 20 the FedEx explosion and the last connected explosion occurred, prompting the school to respond. There was an increase of police presence on campus the following day, and all FedEx and UPS deliveries to every AISD facility were suspended until March 26.

“Thats the thing, the fact that it happens is, you know bad, it doesn’t matter that it doesn’t happen near us, or it does happen near us, the fact that it does happen is the crazy thing,” teacher Aaron Bryant said.

That night an unrelated incendiary device went off in a GoodWill off Brodie Lane at 7:30p.m. and Bowie was put under a reverse evacuation.

“It just made me very much more aware of my surroundings and I think it’s made me much more connected to the people around me,” senior Emily Robinett said. “Because when I was leaving theater rehearsal whenever the unrelated event at Goodwill happened, I remember calling everyone and checking in, and there was such a strength formed in the caution we were taking for each other so that was kind of different.”

The 24 year old suspect committed suicide March 21 after a police chase, and many Austinites express that the experience has made them appreciate their day to day safety.

“You know you go through life and you feel moderately safe and then you don’t feel safe as something happens to you to get you out of that comfort zone, it’s a weird feeling,” Bryant said.

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The student news site of James Bowie High School
Austin package bombs deliver violence to doorsteps