Investigators are responding to KVUE's reports that officers were already circulating photos of a red SUV similar to the Austin bombing suspect's before a fourth explosion seriously injured two young men in the Travis Country neighborhood Sunday night.
Video of the crumpled SUV on Interstate 35 in Round Rock was the first time the public saw the vehicle connected to the Austin bomber. But it may not have been the first time folks in bombing victim Hope Herrera’s neighborhood had seen it.
The day following the suspect's death, KVUE learned that federal investigators had a big lead on the Austin bomber as early as Thursday, March 15 -- when they began asking neighbors of at least one of the bombing victims about a vehicle similar to the 23-year-old's SUV, according to residents on Galindo Street.
“We just knew, we knew that had to be his car that they got on camera,” said neighbor Haidee DeLafuente.
When Haidee saw the scene in Round Rock, after the bomber blew himself up as agents closed in, she said she knew she’d seen that SUV before. She said she told federal agents last week she’d seen that red SUV before and knew it didn’t belong in her neighborhood. Numerous neighbors have told KVUE federal law enforcement agents showed them those same photos.
The KVUE Defenders discovered Friday why it wasn't released to the general public.
A law enforcement source close to the investigation admitted to KVUE they showed numerous potential witnesses photos of an SUV that looks similar to the bomber’s vehicle late last week, as well as other vehicles. But they said it was before they knew who was responsible for this reign of terror.
KVUE's Erica Proffer asked investigators if they had suspicion about the bomber days before the fourth attack sent two more people to the hospital. They said, "No."
Law enforcement members close to the case told Proffer they showed multiple photos of multiple vehicles to neighbors. They didn't have it narrowed down enough and didn't know if any of the vehicles were tied to the bomber. They said to release that video to the general public would have put the investigation in jeopardy at the time.
The source, who did not want to go on camera said, "When you release to the public, you have to be certain."
They were not certain.
It wasn't good enough to label him a suspect until after the suspect showed up to the FedEx facility on Brodie Lane.