Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Presumed serial bomber blows self up in Austin as police close in

Austin, Texas, Mar 21 (EFE).- The presumed serial bomber who this month terrorized central Texas, particularly this capital, died Wednesday when he detonated a package bomb he was transporting in his vehicle when police surrounded him.

Austin police chief Brian Manley said at the blast site that the 23-year-old white man had been the main suspect – as per information obtained from witnesses and security camera videotapes – in the series of bombings that had killed two people and injured five others.

Local media outlets identified the man as Mark Anthony Conditt, a resident of the small town of Pflugerville, near Round Rock, located just north of the Austin metro area.

Police have not officially confirmed the man’s identity and Manley said they do not yet know what may have motivated him to launch a reign of terror on March 2 in the Texas capital by placing and mailing bombs apparently at random.

Police had clandestinely surrounded Conditt’s vehicle in the parking lot of a hotel near Round Rock when he emerged from the hotel and began to drive away. Officers followed him and, when he noticed that he was being tailed he drove into a ditch and detonated a bomb inside the car as SWAT officers approached him with the aim of taking him alive, Manley said.

One SWAT officer was injured by the blast, although he is in stable condition and recovering from his wounds in a local hospital.

Despite the confirmation of the death of the main suspect in the case, Manley urged the public to remain vigilant given that there could still be undiscovered or undelivered package bombs fashioned by Conditt.

“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,” Manley said.

On March 2, a black man died when a package bomb blew up on his doorstep, and a week later two bombs with similar characteristics blew up at different spots in Austin, killing a 17-year-old African American and seriously injuring two women, one of them Hispanic.

Given the fact that several members of minorities were killed or injured, police initially thought that the bombings might be hate crimes, but last Sunday another bomb was remotely detonated when two young white men were talking along an Austin sidewalk, injuring them both.

The detonation mechanism in the bombs became more sophisticated over time, and just 24 hours later another package bomb exploded in a FedEx warehouse near San Antonio, injuring one person.

Authorities found another unexploded package bomb at a FedEx store near Austin’s international airport and they were able to use surveillance video to get an image of the suspected bomber.

“AUSTIN BOMBING SUSPECT IS DEAD. Great job by law enforcement and all concerned!” tweeted President Donald Trump on Wednesday morning after learning of Conditt’s death.

The local police and FBI investigations into the bombings remain open while authorities determine if any undiscovered bombs exist and whether Conditt was truly the only person involved.