Police have identified the suspect behind a series of terrifying bombings throughout Austin, Texas. Here’s what we know about Mark Anthony Conditt and the horrific crimes.
1. His name is Mark Anthony Conditt: the Austin bombing suspect was a 24-year-old white man named Mark Anthony Conditt, according to the Associated Press. Little information about the suspect is available at this point, but according to social media posts, Conditt was the eldest of three siblings and lived in Pflugerville, Texas, a community near Austin. Conditt is suspected of sending five package bombs that detonated on the porches of his victims, starting on March 2. The explosions killed two people and injured four others. Conditt detonated a sixth bomb in his own car on March 21, killing himself.
Austin police are asking citizens to remain alert, as the suspect could have sent out more package bombs before his death. “We don’t know where this suspect has spent his last 24 hours, and therefore we still need to remain vigilant to ensure that no other packages or devices have been left throughout the community,” Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said. The suspect will not be officially identified until the medical examiner confirms it and notifies family first.
2. How did police find him? Roughly 24 hours before his death, Austin police received a tip about a person of interest, who turned into a suspect. Austin Mayor Steve Adler confirmed that the police found the suspect at a FedEx store in town after identifying him through surveillance footage taken at 7:30pm on Sunday. They then identified his car, found in the early hours of Wednesday, March 21 at a hotel in Round Rock, Texas — just a few miles from Austin. The officers summoned tactical units to the scene in hopes of capturing the suspected bomber.
You can see stills from the surveillance footage at FedEx below; the suspect is wearing a baseball cap, gloves, and blonde wig while allegedly mailing bombs. The suspect mailed two packages — one exploded on a conveyor belt at a FedEx sorting facility near San Antonio, Texas. The other was intercepted at a sorting facility near the Austin airport. Authorities are treating that second package as if it were a bomb, according to Texas Congressman Lloyd Doggett‘s office.
3. He blew himself up: before the tactical units could get to the Round Rock hotel, the suspect fled the scene in his car. After a short chase, he pulled into a ditch on the side of Interstate 35. As SWAT officers approached the car, he detonated a bomb inside the vehicle. The blast from the detonation “knocked one officer back,” slightly injuring him, said Chief Manley. Another officer fired his gun at the vehicle.
The suspect died in the blast. It’s unclear at this point if he worked alone or had help. However, he was alone when he drove away from the hotel in Round Rock and detonated the explosive in his car.
4. What was his motive? Police are still unsure why the suspect detonated these bombs throughout Austin in March. The four bombs were placed on porches and in front yards, and were not delivered through postal services like FedEx, UPS, of USPS. The bombs were placed in East Austin neighborhoods, where most residents are minorities. Some have expressed concerns that the attacks might allegedly be racially motivated.
Three blasts — one on March 2 and two on March 12 — killed or wounded three African-Americans and one Hispanic person. The first explosion killed Anthony Stephan House, 39. The second bomb killed Draylon Mason, 17. The third blast critically injured an unnamed 75-year-old woman. The fourth blast, on March 18, was placed in a mostly-white area of Austin. The device was triggered by a tripwire, injuring two white men.
5. He expressed homophobic views online: Conditt was reportedly a student in an online American government class at Austin Community College in 2012. For the class, he reportedly submitted several blog posts expressing his opinions on gay marriage and women’s rights. He wrote that, “Homosexuality is not natural. Just look at the male and female bodies … It would be like trying to fit two screws together and to nuts together and then say, ‘see, it’s natural for them to go together.” He was against abortion. He wrote, “if you can’t provide for a child, then don’t have sex.”