10 metro federal agents helping search for serial bomber in Texas

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Investigators in Texas are getting help from across the country in the intensive search for a serial bomber. That includes federal agents from the Kansas City metro who are now in Texas.

“People are much more conscious of it because of what's happening in Austin and what's happening in Texas,” said John Ham, a spokesman for The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' Kansas City office.

Ham said 10 metro agents are in Texas helping investigate those package bombs.

While that's happening in Texas, Ham said agents and police departments in the metro have responded to an increased number of calls about suspicious packages lately.

“We handle every one of these like it's an actual device,” Ham said. “Unfortunately, it only takes one being the real thing, being some kind of package explosive device, to terrorize a person or a community.”

ATF was called to assist Independence police just last week after a package with a racial slur ended up in a mailbox. Police ended up finding a black barbie doll inside.

“Everything is different," Ham said. "The only common denominator in a package bomb is the bomb. It oftentimes is made specifically for the packaging it's going into."

Ham said the ATF works alongside local bomb squads to make sure the scene is safe and they get people away. They then x-ray the package, performed by either a robot or a member of a local bomb squad in protective gear.

ATF also uses K-9s trained to detect explosives to alert them to suspicious packages and items.

Ham said there are things on a package that can tip you off that it may be dangerous:

  • If it's something that you weren't expecting or if it's something you are suspicious of, just leave it.
  • Excessive postage on the package means that it was probably not metered at a post office or at another shipping facility like FedEx or UPS. It means that somebody just put excessive postage on it to ensure it would get to its destination without anybody taking interest in it.
  • Misspellings on the address, misspellings on the return, anything that involves string or twine wrapped around the package -- All of that is obsolete in the shipping world, but is sometimes seen with package bombs.