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Suspected Austin “serial bomber” is dead: what we know

The suspect in a string of bombings in Austin killed himself inside his car with an explosive device early Wednesday as police closed in.

Federal investigators survey the scene near Galindo Street in Austin, Texas on March 12, 2018, where a woman in her 70s was injured in an explosion. The incident was the second reported explosion that day and the third in two weeks. 
Federal investigators survey the scene near Galindo Street in Austin, Texas on March 12, 2018, where a woman in her 70s was injured in an explosion. The incident was the second reported explosion that day and the third in two weeks. 
Suzanne Cordeiro/Getty Images

The suspect in a string of bombings in Austin is dead after killing himself inside his car with an explosive device early Wednesday as police closed in. He is believed to have been behind at least six explosives that have targeted local residents in recent weeks.

Law enforcement officials tracked the suspect, identified as 23-year-old Mark Anthony Conditt, to a hotel in Round Rock, north of Austin. In a confrontation with police during which shots were fired, Conditt detonated a device and died while in his vehicle.

Interim Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said on Wednesday that the case broke in the past 24 to 36 hours. Police used store receipts, internet searches, and surveillance footage to identify him.

Police are still investigating the possibility of accomplices, but Manley said the police believe “this individual is responsible for all of the incidents in Austin.” He also urged the community to stay vigilant for other possible explosives the suspect may have set up prior to his death. Conditt’s motives are not yet known.

There were at least six explosions or explosive devices that we know of: Four explosions in Austin killed two people and injured multiple others beginning on March 2. A fifth explosion occurred on Tuesday shortly after midnight when a package believed to be bound for Austin exploded at a FedEx facility northeast of San Antonio, and authorities intercepted a sixth package containing an explosive device at a different FedEx facility in Austin, according to the FBI.

Federal officials confirmed that the two packages at the FedEx facilities were linked to the four Austin explosions. Authorities described the Austin bombings as sophisticated work. The first three bombs were packages left on doorsteps at people’s homes that exploded.

The fact that the victims of the first three explosions were black and Hispanic led to speculation that race could be a factor — although Sunday’s bombing took place in a predominately white neighborhood and injured two white people. It is not clear where in Austin Tuesday’s packages were headed, and so far, little is known about the suspect’s motive.

What we know so far

  • Five bombs exploded in or near Austin. The first three were in packages; the fourth was on the side of the road, and the fifth bomb exploded on Tuesday shortly after midnight at a FedEx facility in Schertz, Texas.
  • A sixth bomb was “disrupted” by law enforcement on Tuesday, the FBI confirmed. The FBI confirmed in a news release Tuesday that all six packages are connected.
  • The suspect, identified as 23-year-old Mark Anthony Conditt, killed himself with an explosive device as police closed in on him early Wednesday at a hotel north of Austin. Police believe he is behind all the incidents in Austin but warned they don’t know where he has been in the past 24 hours. They urged citizens to remain vigilant.
  • Fred Milanowski, the special agent in charge of Houston Field Division for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, told the Wall Street Journal that investigators identified the suspect using basic police work. “There were several small pieces that all came together,” he said. “It was purchases. It was some video. It was witness statements that all came together.”
  • The first blast occurred on March 2, killing 39-year-old Anthony Stephan House when a package exploded at his home. Authorities initially described it as an “isolated incident.”
  • On March 12, two other package explosions occurred. The first killed 17-year-old high school senior Draylen Mason. The second critically injured 75-year-old Esperanza Herrera, who was visiting her mother’s house where the package was delivered.
  • House and Mason had relatives who were good friends and prominent members of Austin’s black community and appear to have had a connection. House’s stepfather, Freddie Dixon, told the Washington Post that he is close to Mason’s grandfather Norman Mason. They were fraternity brothers, and Norman Mason attended a church where Dixon used to be a pastor.
  • The bomb that injured Herrera was addressed to a different home and apparently exploded while she was carrying it.
  • Two men in their early 20s were injured in Sunday’s blast when they were walking near a fence and set off the bomb in southwest Austin. Both were seriously injured and remained hospitalized on Monday.
  • The bombings took place around the time of the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin. A bomb threat forced the Roots to cancel a concert Saturday. A 26-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the threat.
  • President Donald Trump addressed the bombings at the White House on Tuesday. “The bombings in Austin are terrible,” he said. “Local, state, and federal are working hand in hand to get to the bottom of it. This is obviously a very, very sick individual or maybe individuals, these are sick people and we will get to the bottom of it, we will be very strong.”
  • President Trump celebrated the bomber’s death on Twitter on Wednesday and congratulated law enforcement for their work.

What we don’t know:

  • Whether the suspect had any accomplices.
  • The suspect’s motives.