Wednesday morning’s bloody conclusion of the manhunt for the Austin bombing suspect, who fatally detonated a bomb in his car as police closed in, has given way to new questions of whether he left any traps in his wake and what motivated his actions.
Authorities have identified the suspect as Mark Anthony Conditt, a white man in his early 20s. In an interview with local Fox affiliate KTBC Wednesday morning, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said that Conditt lived in Pflugerville, a suburb about 20 miles northeast of Austin, with two roommates, who are cooperating with police.
The Austin American-Statesman reports that Conditt was homeschooled and was a regular churchgoer. An Austin Community College spokeswoman told the Associated Press that Conditt attended the school from 2010 to 2012 but did not graduate.
“When I met Mark, he was really rough around the edges,” Jeremiah Jensen, a friend of Conditt, told the Statesman. “He was a very assertive person and would…end up being kind of dominant and intimidating in conversation. A lot of people didn’t understand him and where he was coming from....It’s just very difficult for a lot of kids to find a way to fit in once they are out in the real world. I have a feeling that is what happened with Mark. I don’t remember him ever being sure of what he wanted to do.”
Conditt’s family shared similar shock toward his actions in a statement shared with CNN on Wednesday. “We had no idea of the darkness that Mark must have been in. Our family is a normal family in every way. We love, we pray, and we try to inspire and serve others,” they said.
Conditt described himself as conservative on a blog he created for a political science course in college, the Statesmen reports. Police have not established any link between his political stance and alleged crimes, but the posts provide some insight into his worldview.
He was against gay marriage (“not natural”) and for the death penalty, writing, “Living criminals harm and murder, again - executed ones do not.” He argued against the sex offender registry and providing women access to abortion: “If you can’t provide for a child, then don’t have sex.” Posts on the long-defunct blog have filled up with hundreds of new comments since Conditt was identified by authorities.
The motivation for the bombings remains unclear. The first two package explosions killed black people—39-year-old Anthony Stephan House and 17-year-old Draylen Mason—leading some to fear they had been targeted because of their race. But subsequent bombings, one of which utilized a trip-wire, also injured white victims.
As the dust settled on Wednesday afternoon, Abbott told reporters that Conditt had purchased some of the supplies for his bombing spree from Home Depot, according to Texas Tribune reporter Patrick Svitek.
Authorities haven’t ruled out the possibility that Conditt received outside help, and they’ve asked Austin-area residents to remain vigilant. KTBC’s Rudy Koski reported on Wednesday afternoon that the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had located additional homemade explosives in Conditt’s Pflugerville residence. They cordoned off a four-block radius around the home while attempting to dispose of the devices.
Update, 6:35 P.M. ET, 03/21/2018: According to ABC News, Conditt shipped the two FedEx package bombs discovered on Monday — one went off, the other was disarmed by law enforcement — shortly after 7:30 on Sunday night, wearing a wig and gloves and using the alias “Kelly Killmore.”
ABC News also has details of Conditt’s capture:
At 1:30 a.m., Wednesday, Deputy U.S. Marshals with the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force spotted the suspect’s vehicle, a red Nissan Pathfinder, sitting in a parking lot at a hotel in Round Rock, Texas, north of Austin and set up surveillance, according to law enforcement sources briefed on the matter.
Conditt was not in the vehicle and was assumed to be in the hotel. Authorities worked quickly to set up a perimeter and assemble a SWAT team from Austin Police Department. Investigators were concerned about the possible danger associated with potential bombs and wanted armored vehicles present.
Law enforcement sources tell ABC News at approximately 2:10 am, Conditt, exited the hotel, got into his car and drove away. Police quietly pursued.
Investigators believe a short time later, Condit (sic) spotted the surveillance and pulled over. Officers gave verbal commands which Conditt did not obey. At 2:21 am, Conditt appeared to reach down, police fired one shot and Conditt detonated a device, killing him, according to law enforcement sources briefed on the matter.
Update, 08:30 P.M. ET, 03/21/2018: At a press conference on Wednesday night, Austin police chief Brian Manley told reporters that Conditt had left a 25-minute video recording on his cell phone, which Manley classified as a “confession.”
NBC News reports:
The phone was found on the suspect after he died in an explosion early Wednesday as police closed in, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said. In the recording, Mark Anthony Conditt, described the bombs that he allegedly constructed to such a degree that he also explained how they differed, which is information that had not been released, Manley explained.
“He does not at all mention anything about terrorism or anything about hate,” Manley said, who added that the video did not necessarily clarify a motive.
“Instead, it is the outcry of a very challenged young man talking about challenges in his personal life that led him to this point,” he said.
Update, 12:30 A.M ET 03/22/2018: Earlier tonight, the Los Angeles Police Department responded to reports of a “small FedEx package” addressed to a home in the Leimert Park neighborhood from an unknown sender in Austin, according to ABC7 in Los Angeles. Police responded and determined there wasn’t a threat.
This is a developing story and is being updated.