FBI wants Austin residents to be on high alert
Regional FBI agents want Austinites to be on alert. It's part of an effort to get people to report suspicious behavior that could potentially stop a terrorist attack or act of violence before it happens. Terror experts say criminals are using non-suspicious items like a soda can or even children's toys to create explosive devices. There are no credible threats against Austin but the FBI says there could be a threat it doesn't know about yet.
"I think there's a lot of open-minded nice people here," said Matt Mooney who lives in the Austin area.
In a city known for its weird and wonderful, how do you spot someone or something suspicious?
"I think in Downtown Austin it's pretty important to always be on high alert," said Austin resident Stacy Mellish.
In a news conference on Wednesday, the FBI regional office out of San Antonio says it's what it doesn't know that concerns them.
"There are people that may be being radicalized right now that we're not aware of," said FBI San Antonio Special Agent Christopher Combs.
The FBI is working 24/7 through the holidays to follow up on any threats to the Austin area.
"If something is suspicious you have to call us. I think the price of not calling is even worse," said Special Agent Combs.
"It's always changing. There's always something new coming out," said terrorism expert Jay Fonville.
Fonville showed KEYE TV News what terrorist or lone wolf attackers already know.
"To make an explosive is very cheap for individuals here," said Fonville.
He's part of the training team for first responders and law enforcement. Fonville showed KEYE TV that soda cans, parts of an Etch-a-sketch, greeting cards and even the materials from an ice pack can be used in explosive devices.
"We only have so many officers and first responders out there. So the more eyes we have out there and ears we have out there will help the first responders," said Fonville.
The FBI says if someone's normal behavior suddenly changes, or a neighbor is getting supplies like wires and pipes shipped to their home, that's the time to call.
"I think the price of not calling is even worse," said Special Agent Combs.
You can call the FBI San Antonio Division at 210-225-6741. You can also submit a tip electronically through their website at https://tips.fbi.gov/. You can also contact local police with a tip or submit a tip through the DPS website https://iwatchtx.org/?site=tx.