A man who police believe is responsible for several bombings in Austin this month died early Wednesday morning as officers attempted to arrest him, bringing what authorities and residents hope will be an end to a string of attacks that has shaken Texas’ capital city.
Authorities said they tracked the man to a hotel a few miles north of Austin before sunrise. As they waited for backup to arrive, the man drove away. Officers followed and the man drove into a ditch, where he detonated his own bomb and an officer fired at him. One officer was injured in the explosion.
“The suspect is deceased and has significant injuries from a blast that occurred,” said Brian Manley, Austin’s interim police chief.
Manley added, “This is the culmination of three very long weeks for our community.”‘
Police didn’t release the identity of the suspect Wednesday morning, other than to say he was a 24-year-old white male. But multiple reports citing law enforcement sources said the man was Pflugerville resident Mark A. Conditt, who public records indicate is 23.
Authorities said they don’t yet know what the motive was for the attacks. Police are still investigating, but Manley said, “we believe this individual is responsible for all of the incidents.”
Still, police said people in Austin need to stay vigilant, since “we don’t know where this suspect has spent his last 24 hours.”
In an interview with Fox News, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said authorities are looking to see if anyone else was involved in the bomb attacks. Abbott added that the suspect had two roommates. Though they are not believed to be suspects at this time, investigators aren’t taking any chances, he said.
“We are incapable at this point in time to rule out anybody else working in collaboration with him,” Abbott said. “We will know more about this as we sift through [the suspects] social media accounts.
Abbott also said that authorities don’t yet know how the suspect “gained the skill set to create these bombs.”
Records indicate that Conditt attended Austin Community College from 2010 to 2012, but didn’t earn a degree, an ACC spokesperson told The Texas Tribune. Multiple reports also indicated that Conditt was homeschooled.
Prior to Wednesday morning, five bombs had exploded in or near Texas’ capital city in recent weeks. A sixth bomb was found at a FedEx facility, but didn’t detonate. Two people have died — not including the suspected bomber — and several others were seriously injured.
The first three bombings happened in East Austin. Each of those involved a package left at the front of a person’s house that exploded. Two people were killed — 39-year-old Anthony Stephan House on March 2 and 17-year-old Draylen Mason on March 12.
Then on Sunday night, the bomber appeared to switch up his methods. A bomb exploded in a southwest Austin residential neighborhood, seriously injuring two people. Law enforcement officials said a tripwire device ignited that blast. Authorities declared that a sophisticated “serial bomber” might be at work.
Then another package explosion occurred Tuesday morning at a FedEx facility in Schertz, which is outside of San Antonio. Authorities said that package was headed for Austin. The unexploded bomb was found at a second FedEx facility hours later.
The man’s decision to send bombs by FedEx seemed to provide authorities with a break in the case. FedEx said Tuesday that it was able to hand over “extensive evidence” related to the packages and who shipped them.
But police also indicated that they had other evidence that helped them find their suspect, including videos and information from witnesses. NBC News reported Wednesday that Conditt ordered “exotic batteries” online and used them in the bombs. Those batteries helped police link the bombings, NBC reported.
President Donald Trump celebrated the news of Conditt’s demise on Twitter early Wednesday morning, posting “AUSTIN BOMBING SUSPECT IS DEAD. Great job by law enforcement and all concerned!”
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