Austin Bombings Suspect Kills Himself As Police Close In

AUSTIN, Tex. (CBS) – The suspect in the spate of bombings in Austin, Texas is dead, Austin police say. Police Chief Brian Manley told reporters early Wednesday the man detonated a device in his vehicle after being pursued by police early Wednesday morning.

Two law enforcement sources identified the suspect to CBS News as 23-year-old Mark Anthony Conditt.

Manley said the suspect’s identity wouldn’t be officially released until the medical examiner confirmed it and his next of kin are notified. Manley said authorities don’t know why the man engaged in the bombings.

Austin Police tracked suspect to Round Rock, TX Red Roof Inn

Governor Greg Abbott, speaking to local television station KXAN, said investigators knew who the suspect was for about 24 hours before his arrest and had been following him.

“We knew we were going to be able to apprehend him, we just didn’t know when,” Abbott said.

He said witnesses spotted a person entering a FedEx store wearing a “crazy” disguise, including a blond wig and gloves, and called police. KEYE obtained pictures from surveillance video taken inside a South Austin FedEx Office store Sunday night, where the person shipped two suspicious packages.

From there, investigators were able to track down his identity using cell phone pings and vehicle information, Abbott told KXAN.

Once investigators were satisfied they’d determined who the bomber was, surveillance teams began looking for him and spotted a vehicle he was known to be driving at a hotel in the Austin suburb of Round Rock.

Officers were waiting for armored vehicles to arrive before moving in for an arrest when his vehicle began to drive away, Manley said at a news conference.

Authorities followed the vehicle, which ran into a ditch on the side of the road, he said.

At that point, Manley said, as an Austin police SWAT team closed in, the suspect fired at them, then detonated a device in his vehicle. One SWAT team member was knocked back from the blast as he approached the vehicle and suffered minor injuries, Manley said.

Authorities think the suspect was behind all the bombings in Austin this month but FBI agent Chris Combs, head of the bureaus San Antonio office, says, “We are concerned that there may be other packages that are still out there.” People in Austin are being urged to remain vigilant, since it’s not known if any other devices were planted.

It wasn’t clear whether the suspect intended to plant the device he used to kill himself, authorities added.

Abbott said on KXAN preliminary information indicates the suspect acted alone, but investigators have not been able to rule out that he had accomplices.

President Trump tweeted about the developments:

Suspect’s identity revealed

Two law enforcement sources identified the suspect to CBS News as 23-year-old Mark Anthony Conditt.

The mayor of Conditt’s hometown says the suspect lived only two blocks away from him in a part of the city known as Old Town.

Pflugerville Mayor Victor Gonzales told The Associated Press on Wednesday that police had surveillance on the home overnight Tuesday, though he said he didn’t personally know the family.

Gonzales says he had concerned neighbors approaching him because of the large police presence in the neighborhood. He says he let them know everything would be OK.

Investigators believe Conditt made all of the bombs used in the Austin attacks.

Conditt was a student at Austin Community College from 2010-2012 but didn’t graduate, a school spokesman told CBS News. He has not attended since that time. The school says it is working with the Austin Police Department.

According to the Austin-American Statesman, Conditt was home-schooled as a child and had previously worked as a computer repair technician.

A blogger who identified himself as Mark Conditt of Pflugerville described his interests as cycling, tennis and listening to music. In blogs dated from 2012, he wrote that gay marriage should be illegal and called for the elimination of sex offender registrations.

Speaking on KXAN, Abbott said the suspect wasn’t a member of the military, didn’t have a criminal history and was unemployed.

Also unclear is where the suspect made the bombs, Abbott said. He said the suspect lived with roommates and that investigators are speaking with them, trying to find out what information they can share. Investigators don’t know whether the suspect made the bombs at the Pflugerville home — where there was a massive law enforcement presence Wednesday — or at some other location.

“I think we will be able to piece together the puzzle of who this man was and why it is he did what he did,” Abbott told KXAN. “That will be able to resolve a lot of the uncertainty that still exists.”

A community on edge

The five connected explosions began on March 2nd and killed two people and injured six others. Earlier, KEYE said it had obtained photos of the person investigators believe dropped off two suspicious packages Sunday. Investigators said he was a person of interest and that the two packages were connected to the string of explosions in the Texas capital.

Man described as person of interest in series of bombings in Austin, Texas is seen in a FedEx store in the city in March 18, 2018 surveillance video obtained by CBS Austin affiliate KEYE-TV

The station said sources told it the U.S. Marshal’s Lone Star Fugitive Task Force – Austin Division – gathered the video and helped the lead agencies in the investigation get an idea where the person of interest might have been.

One of the two packages exploded on a conveyor belt at a FedEx sorting facility outside San Antonio, in Schertz. The second package was intercepted at a facility near the Austin airport.

The second suspicious package was being treated as if it could be a bomb, according to Congressman Lloyd Doggett’s office. Both packages originated from the same location.

The photos show the person, possibly wearing a wig and gloves, carrying two packages. According to time stamps on the pictures, the person was in the store around 7:30 Sunday evening.

Authorities believe the same person or persons were connected to the two packages that surfaced Tuesday and were also responsible for the four other explosions that began on March 2nd that killed two people and injured six.

A sixth unrelated explosion was reported Tuesday evening in South Austin, but Austin Police said it was from military memorabilia left at a Goodwill drop box.

Categories: National, US & World News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *