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Austin Mayor: 'People Here Are Concerned And Anxious'

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK. There has been another explosion in Texas this morning. The latest suspected bomb went off in the early hours of this morning at a FedEx facility near San Antonio. Authorities, though, say that package was on its way to Austin. And it appears to be just the latest in a string of bombings targeting Austin residents. We have Mayor Steve Adler of the city of Austin on the line with us.

Mayor, good morning to you, and thank you for taking the time. I know you're dealing with a lot right now.

STEVE ADLER: No problem at all. Good morning.

GREENE: What are you telling residents of your city at this point?

ADLER: What we're saying to everyone is, you know, Austin has dealt with difficult times before. We always pull together as a community, and we're doing that now - certainly, not something quite like this. But we're pulling together, and we're watching each other's back. What our law enforcement have asked us to do is to be extra vigilant and looking out for things that are suspicious and then reporting them, calling 911. What we're telling folks is that if they find themselves wondering whether it's worth reporting something that may be suspicious, the fact that they're even wondering - the answer to that question is, yes, they should call. And that's what we should be doing as a community.

I'm also letting the community know that this is a priority not only here locally but also at the state level and at the federal level. There is an army of law enforcement folks that are here - hundreds of federal agents, multiple federal agencies, hundreds of agents working on this outside of Austin and Texas, in Quantico, Va. - very sophisticated equipment and experts that are involved.

GREENE: Trying to do everything they can to figure this out and, I guess, hopefully before it happens again.

ADLER: Right. And I'm confident they're going to figure out who's responsible for this and stop it.

GREENE: Is your 911 system just being inundated? I mean, I know, you know, you want people to call and report anything that might be suspicious, but how many 911 calls have you been getting about suspicious packages?

ADLER: We had about 850 as of last evening. And we have the capacity to handle that. We don't want anybody hesitating to call in for fear that we don't have that - those resources, because we do, and we're encouraging and want people to call.

GREENE: That's far more than normal, I would assume.

ADLER: Far more than normal but appropriate to the circumstance.

GREENE: I know the authorities, even before this most recent explosion at that FedEx facility, were calling whoever's doing this a serial bomber. Are you convinced this is domestic terrorism, or how would you classify this at this point?

ADLER: Well, I certainly know that there's a significant fear and terror being felt by people in the community. And that's a reasonable and rational response. In talking to the police chief, I think that that word has as a technical meaning, as well, and I'm not quite as versed on that. But, you know, people here are concerned and anxious. And I know that the law enforcement folks at this point have an investigation which is broad. It's been described to me that they're not focusing on anything in particular because that might mean that they don't ask questions they should ask or they don't see things that they should see. So we're just making sure that they have every resource they could possibly want to be able to pursue this, and that's happening now.

GREENE: Have you ever dealt with something like this before?

ADLER: No. This is certainly unusual for us. Austin is one of the safest cities in the country, which is why this is standing out. Of course, this would be standing out in any city. But this is a city that is talking to one another. We're looking out to one another. The - everybody understands that their role right now as part of a community coming together is to be vigilant and be the eyes for law enforcement. And we're doing our part, and know and appreciate knowing the attention that this is getting nationally and the resources that are being brought to bear.

GREENE: Steve Adler is the mayor of Austin, Texas. Mayor, thank you very much. We'll be thinking about your community today.

ADLER: Thank you very much. We appreciate that. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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