On Monday, bombs went off in Austin, Texas.
That’s a big deal, right? Bombs – actual improvised explosive devices – going off in the middle of a major American city is a big fucking deal.
They weren’t found by a bomb squad and safely disposed of by a brave crew or a high-tech robot. Nah, they were left on the doorsteps of people’s homes all over Austin. Made to look like mail, the packages were then picked up by a mix of everyday people – black and Latino, young and old – who were then torn to bits by explosive shrapnel.
A report from ABC News outlined the level of sophistication of the explosives: The bombs had been designed by a “highly skilled” bomb maker – or makers —who used pieces of metal to generate shrapnel and set triggers that detonated the bombs with motion.
Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s a huge deal. Strangely, though, Donald Trump, the president of the United States, who campaigned on being tough on crime and terrorism, hasn’t said a word. He hasn’t tweeted concerns or condolences. Instead, he’s tweeting pictures of himself surveying border wall prototypes. Hours after the bombs were detonated in Austin on Monday, Trump was terminating his secretary of state on Twitter.
A full 10 days before most of the nation heard about the deadly bombs that were set off this past Monday, one tore through Anthony Stephan House, a 39-year-old African-American project manager, ripping his body to shreds.
“It didn’t sound like an explosion or what I think of an explosion. It sounded like a metal dumpster getting hit by a truck,” said a neighbor who rushed outside and found House with shrapnel embedded in his body. “His clothes were torn up and his face was torn up.”
House was pronounced dead an hour later.
What happened next is hard to process. Police initially called the death a homicide, but then changed that because they said House could have killed himself with a package bomb on the doorstep of his own home. According to the cops, the death was simply “suspicious” and “an isolated incident and that there is no continuing threat to the community.”
Then, this past Monday, a full 10 days after House was apparently murdered, virtually the same thing that happened to House happened at two additional homes in Austin.
One of the exploding packages was brought into a family home and exploded in the kitchen, killing 17-year-old Draylen Mason and critically wounding his mother. Mason, we have since learned, was a brilliant, African-American musician and young scholar who had been accepted into prestigious music programs across the country.
Another bomb exploded a few hours later and critically injured 75-year-old Esperanza Herrera, whom authorities think picked up a package intended for someone else, according to the local NBC affiliate. The president of the local chapter of the NAACP told NBC, “The intended target was another person who might be connected to the House and Mason families.”
The connection, said Nelson Linder, the NAACP official, was through the families’ attendance at a prominent black church congregation in Austin. “They have a long history and go to the same church,” Linder said.
After the more recent spate of bombings, police finally admit that their evidence shows that House’s killing appears to have been carried out by the same person or group.
Here’s what I know and what makes living in this country so damn exhausting: If the victims were white and the suspects were known to be Muslims, the president of the United States would care. In these cases, however, with no profile of the attacker available and a trail of black and brown victims, it seems like this square peg doesn’t fit into the round hole of Trump’s agenda.