News Roundup: $65,000 Reward Offered In Connection With Package Explosion Incidents

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelMarch 14, 2018 2:02 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

Austin police are offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest, after a series of recent package explosions left two people dead. That’s on top of the $15,000 reward the Texas Governor’s office is offering. That makes for a total possible reward of $65,000.

Syeda Hasan with KUT News reports that Austin police have identified one of the victims from the first of two March 12 package explosions as 17-year-old Draylen Mason. Mason attended East Austin College Prep and had also been accepted to attend the University of Texas at Austin Butler School of Music.

UT President Greg Fenves offered condolences to Mason’s loved ones on Twitter.

The first bombing took place on March 2. A 75-year-old woman injured in a second bombing Monday has not been publicly identified.

Austin Interim Police Chief Brian Manley says investigators are not ruling out terrorism or a potential hate crime. He asked the community to remain vigilant.

“Please partner with us on this,” Manley says. “Be our eyes, be our ears. If you see something, say something, call us. If you know something call the tip line.”

As of Tuesday afternoon Austin Police had received 265 calls about suspicious packages. Manley says none of those were bombs.

Texas led the nation in exonerations last year with 23 total, according to a new report from the National Registry of Exonerations. Overall, about 30 fewer wrongly convicted people were released in 2017 than in 2016.

The report’s authors say that drop is due to a decrease of cases from Harris County, which has largely cleared a backlog of drug possession cases after three years. Nationwide, 139 people were exonerated in 2017, compared to 171 the previous year.

Spring wildflower season is underway across Texas, and it looks like it’s going to be an average year in terms of timing.

That’s a change from the year before explains, Andrea DeLong-Amaya, the Director of Horticulture at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin.

“Last year we were a little early because we had such a warm end of winter but this year we’ve had some cold weather but not terribly cold,” Delong-Amaya says.

She explains that iconic bluebonnets are already popping up in warmer parts of the state, including Austin and San Antonio. In West Texas, bluebonnet season is already winding down. There they have a different species of the flower known as Big Bend bluebonnets that start blooming in February. DeLong-Amaya says they have their own look.

“Instead of just being a nice little, mound-y, short plant, the Big Bend Blue Bonnets can get up to two or three feet tall depending in the conditions there,” DeLong-Amaya says.

She adds that, beyond bluebonnets, Texans should look out for other wildflowers in the spring, like the uniquely named bladder pod that’s already cropping up in places like McAllen.