Austin Bomber Blows Himself Up as SWAT Moves In
March 21, 2018
Austin police warn that more bombs could be out there.
An intense, three-week manhunt in a series of bombings that have terrorized Austin, Tex., came to an explosive end on Wednesday when the suspect, a 23-year-old unemployed man who had been a student at a local community college, drove into a ditch and blew himself up.
Mark Anthony Conditt, whom authorities had identified via surveillance footage and other clues left behind in one of the country’s worst serial bombing cases, was dead at the scene, the authorities said. One police officer was blown back by the blast and another officer fired his weapon.
AUSTIN BOMBING SUSPECT IS DEAD. Great job by law enforcement and all concerned!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 21, 2018
A city that has been on edge for weeks as a series of makeshift bombs exploded without warning — on doorsteps, on a sidewalk and, most recently, in a FedEx shipping center — saw the long-running drama coming to an end. But authorities warned that with the bomber’s obviously extensive preparations, it might not be entirely over.
“Two very important things before we can put this to rest. One, we don’t know if there are any other bombs out there and if so, how many and where they may be,” Gov. Greg Abbott said on Fox News.
“Second, very importantly, we need to go throughout the day to make sure that we rule out whether there was anybody else involved in this process,” Mr. Abbott said.
Law enforcement authorities swept into Mr. Conditt’s hometown of nearby Pflugerville and spent hours closeted with his parents in their white clapboard home with an American flag hanging outside.
“We do not understand what motivated him to do what he did,” the Austin police chief, Brian Manley, told reporters.
Mr. Conditt was a quiet, “nerdy” young man who came from a “tight-knit, godly family,” said Donna Sebastian Harp, who had known the family for nearly 18 years.
He was the oldest of four children who had all been home-schooled by their mother, Ms. Harp said, but he had also attended Austin Community College.
“He was always kind of quiet,” she said. “He was a nerd, always reading, devouring books and computers and things like that.”
“There was no violent-type activity,” Ms. Harp said. “He was always gentle and quiet.”
In announcing the arrest, Chief Manley said the authorities were still trying to determine whether there were accomplices.
The police spent hours inside the home of Mr. Conditt’s parents. Detective David Fugitt with the Austin police said the family was cooperating and was allowing investigators to search the property, including several backyard sheds.
No explosives had been found so far, Mr. Fugitt said, though police planned to bring in a bomb-sniffing dog as a precaution.
“We’re going to run the dog through the house, as well as the buildings on the back side of the residence,” he said.
The authorities said the family would be releasing a statement later.
“They wanted to express their condolences to the families of those who’ve been affected, and that will be reflected in the statement,” Mr. Fugitt said. “This family has been very cooperative. They’ve gone above and beyond, to answer any questions that we’ve had. We don’t have any information to believe that the family had any knowledge of these events.”
Of the family, he added: “They’re having a difficult time. This is certainly a shock to the conscience.”
The blocks surrounding the suspect’s home remained cordoned off.
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