ICYMI: The Austin Bomber Suspect Is Dead, Blew Himself Up

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Posted: Mar 21, 2018 5:05 PM
ICYMI: The Austin Bomber Suspect Is Dead, Blew Himself Up

The city of Austin was rocked with three weeks of bombings that led to police telling folks in some areas to stay indoors as a massive manhunt began. Bombs were sent to all over the city. In one case, a trip wire detonated a device wounding a two people. While not a powerful device, it was inside a box of nails. If this device hadn’t exploded last Sunday, it very well could have gone off among children on their way to school.  

Earlier today, the manhunt appears to be over, as a suspect drove into a ditch and blew himself up. The suspect’s name was Mark Anthony Conditt. The investigation continues, as authorities look to rule out whether Conditt acting alone or had accomplices (via NYT):

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.

[…]

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.


What led authorities to Conditt was his purchasing of what is being described as exotic batteries. Traces of these batteries were found at the various crime scenes (via NBC News):

  

Exotic" batteries ordered online helped lead authorities to the Austin, Texas, bombing suspect before he died early Wednesday as police closed in, multiple senior law enforcement officials told NBC News.

Austin police and federal agents had been working around the clock with 350 agents to track down the bombing suspect.

A criminal complaint filed before the suspect died identified him as Mark Anthony Conditt, 23. (Police had said earlier that Conditt was 24.) Law enforcement remained at the scene around his home on Wednesday afternoon.

The unusual batteries were the signature trait that allowed investigators to so quickly link the various explosives to Conditt, sources said. One senior law enforcement official said the batteries came from Asia.

[…]

Authorities had tracked him to a hotel in Round Rock, a city in the Austin metropolitan area, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said at a news conference.

Police were able to find Conditt using a variety of tactics, including coming up with a list of phone numbers and individuals that were in the area of the bombings when they occurred, using cell-site analysis and high-tech computing systems that can find patterns of callers in certain areas.

Hours before police tried to pull Conditt, he turned on his cellphone, which allowed authorities to track his location. Surveillance footage taken at an Austin FedEx was also used.

We don’t know Conditt’s motive. By the end of this string of bombings, two people are dead, with five injured. The New York Times added that it is possible that there could be other bombs elsewhere in the city that have not gone off. They also reported that he described himself as conservative on his blog, which was a requirement for a political science class he was taking at Austin Community College. He was a resident of Pflugerville, Texas, which is less than 30 miles outside of Austin proper. His two roommates and family have been questioned by police and are cooperating with the investigation.