The suspect in five bombings that left two people dead and five others injured in Austin, Texas, has died after a confrontation with police in Round Rock, authorities said Wednesday morning. He has been identified as Mark Anthony Conditt, NBC News reports, citing two federal law enforcement sources.
Conditt, a 24-year-old white male, was identified as the serial bomber suspect on Tuesday after two devices, one that exploded, were located in FedEx facilities near Austin. Those packages led police to a FedEx shipping facility, where surveillance video showed a man dropping off the packages, WOIA-TV reports. Police then tracked the suspect to a Round Rock hotel where shots were fired and the suspect was found dead after setting off a sixth bomb, KVUE-TV reports. An Austin police officer was injured in the final blast.
Police say the suspect is from the Pflugerville area and they are not yet ruling out that others were involved in the bombings, KTBC-TV reports. But Police Chief Brian Manley said “This investigation is ongoing. We want to make sure that we confirmed that he either acted alone or if there were any accomplices that we identify him. We believe this individual is responsible for all incidents that have taken place in Austin starting on March 2 and those that have occurred since then as well.”
The ATF has said they believe he is responsible for making the bombs, but it has still not been determined if he had any help.
The bombings, which began March 2, left a 39-year-old father and a 17-year-old boy dead, while a woman in her 40s and a 75-year-old woman were critically injured. Two men in their 20s were wounded in the fourth attack, and a FedEx employee suffered a concussion in the fifth explosion.
The first explosion happened about 6:55 a.m. on March 2 in the 1100 block of Haverford Drive, police said. A 39-year-old man, Anthony Stephan House, was killed. The second explosion occurred on March 12 about 6:45 a.m. in the 4800 block of Oldfort Hill Drive. That blast killed a 17-year-old boy and sent a woman in her 40s to the hospital with serious injuries. The third blast happened about 11:50 a.m. in the 6700 block of Galindo Street. A 75-year-old woman was taken to the hospital with serious and potentially life-threatening injuries, authorities said.
The fourth attack occurred March 18 about 8:30 p.m. Two men were walking on the side of the road when the trip-wire triggered bomb exploded, sending shrapnel spraying at their legs and knocking them off their feet.
Police responded to hundreds of calls for suspicious packages as they asked the community to be on high alert.
“It has been a long almost three weeks for the community of Austin as we have dealt with package bombs and other types of bombs that have been placed throughout our community,” Manley said. “We have seen members of our community who have lost their lives and others whose lives have been forever changes do to significant injuries. This is the culmination of three very long weeks for our community.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Shots Were Fired & the Suspect ‘Detonated Himself’ in the Parking Lot of the Round Rock Red Roof Inn
Authorities identified the suspect about 9 p.m. Tuesday night after developing several leads over a 24 to 36-hour period, including surveillance video taken at a South Austin FedEx shipping center, WFAA-TV reports. The surveillance video showed a man appearing to wear a wig and gloves while dropping off packages at the store.
Using “cell phone technology,” investigators tracked the man, who went from being a person of interest to a suspect, to a Red Roof Inn on Interstate 35 in Round Rock, WFAA reports. Surveillance teams were looking for the suspect, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said. His vehicle was located at a hotel in Round Rock. Local police and federal agents “took up positions around the hotel awaiting the arrival of” tactical teams, Manley said, “because we wanted to have ballistic vehicles” to take the suspect into custody “as safely as possible.”
Manley said while they were waiting for the vehicles to arrive, the suspect started to drive away and officers began following him. But the suspect then drove his vehicle into a ditch on the side of the road and stopped.
“As members of the Austin Police Department SWAT team approached the vehicle, the suspect detonated a bomb inside the vehicle, knocking one of our SWAT officers back,” Manley said. “One of our SWAT officers fired at the suspect as well. The suspect is deceased and has significant injuries from a blast that occurred from detonating a bomb inside his vehicle.”
It is not yet known if the suspect died from the blast or from gunshots fired by the officer. Manley said the officer-involved shooting will be investigated.
“We did have one officer who was injured when that bomb detonated as he approached the vehicle, suffering minor injuries and we had one officer who fired his weapon at the suspect,” Manley said. “That officer has been with the Austin Police Department for 11 years and is a member of our SWAT team. As is our standard practice, he will be placed on administrative duty while we conduct the necessary investigations into what happened here.”
Those officers have not been identified.
Police said they are not sure if the suspect was planning on going to set another bomb, but he clearly had a device with him at the time of his death, which he used in an attempt to kill himself.
Before he was caught, police had said they were searching for a serial bomber.
“We are clearly dealing with what we expect to be a serial bomber at this point,” Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said Monday morning at a press briefing after the fourth bomb. “We have seen similarities in the device that exploded here last night and the other three devices that have exploded in Austin starting March 2. This is preliminary information, but we have seen similarities. The big difference in this device is we believe a trip wire was used in this device.”
The case took a turn Tuesday when a device exploded just after midnight at a FedEx ground delivery sorting facility in Schertz, about 65 miles south of Austin near San Antonio. The explosion left a FedEx employee with a concussion, but no one was seriously injured. A second package containing an unexploded device was also located at a FedEx facility, authorities said.
Police then tracked those packages to a FedEx Office store in Sunset Valley, a small suburb surrounded by Austin. That store had security cameras and the suspect was recorded, the Austin American-Statesman reports.
Store receipts showed suspicious transactions from the suspect and police obtained a search warrant for his Google search history that showed him conducting searches they considered suspicious, according to the Statesman.
Police have not said who the FedEx packages were being sent to, but they said investigators have been in contact with them.
“We have talked many times over the past couple of weeks about the level of partnership that has taken place with our federal officials, our local officials and our police department to bring this to an end,” Manley said. “And through all of this hard work we identified several leads throughout the course of the weeks, but beginning with in the past 24 to 36 hours we started getting information on one person of interest that we continued to work on and we continued to develop and as we continued to do our investigations, this person of interest ultimately moved to being a suspect and that’s what we began focusing on, was his involvement in these crimes.”
Manley added, “There were several leads that led us to this person. We had a lot of evidence that came to us via video sources as well as witnesses. … We do believe that all of these are related and that he is responsible for these, based on the similarities that we have seen in all of the devices and in the evidence we are finding from those that did detonate.”
2. The Suspect Wanted to Cause ‘Mayhem & Death,’ a Federal Law Enforcement Source Told CNN
A federal law enforcement source told CNN that the suspect wanted to create “mayhem and death,” though his exact motive was not known. The source said it did not appear that the bomber was targeting any one group, according to CNN.
There had been fears in the community that African Americans are being targeted by the bomber or bombers, but police say they have not determined a motive for the attacks. All of the victims have been either black or Hispanic. The two victims on Sunday in the fourth bombing were white.
“That’s been the question all along,” Manley said Monday after being asked when the case would be called domestic terrorism. “Is this terrorism? Is this hate related? And we’re early on in the investigation today, we’ve only gotten into the preliminary phases and as the day goes on, that is something we are going to try to analyze. … As we look at this individual and the pattern, we will have to determine if we see a specific ideology behind this or something that will lead us along with our federal partners to make that decision.”
Manley added, “We were not willing to classify this as terrorism, as hate, because we just don’t know enough. And what we have seen now is a significant change from what appeared to be three very targeted attacks to what last night was an attack that would have hit a random victim that happened to walk by.
An African-American woman who lives near the house where the third bomb exploded was possibly mistaken to be a member of a prominent Austin family that has connections to the first two bombings, according to the Austin American Statesman. House is the son of Rev. Freddie Dixon, who is a close friend of Dr. Norman Mason, the grandfather of Draylen Mason. The woman whose house is near the third explosion has the last name Mason, but is not related to the family, the newspaper reports.
“They have a long history and go to the same church,” Nelson Linder the local NAACP chapter president, told NBC News about the House and Mason families.
Manley previously told reporters after the first three bombs, “We cannot rule out that hate crime is at the core of this, but we’re not saying that’s the cause as well.
Manley added, “We do not yet know if the victims are the intended targets. (The package bombs) are being left at homes where there are either multiple residents or it might even be left at the wrong address. So that is part of the investigation that is going on now.” He said they are trying to determine what might be in common among the victims.
3. The Trip Wire Bombing Showed More Sophistication & Skill From the Bomber After the First 3 Bombs Were Left in Packages Outside Homes, Authorities Said
First responders were called to the scene of the explosion about 8:30 p.m. on March 18, police said. According to Fox 7, witnesses heard a loud bang. According to KVUE-TV, one of the victims appeared to have nails in his leg:
“We have made the scene safe this morning,” Police Chief Brian Manley said at a Monday morning press briefing. “We held the scene last night given that it was dark and that we believe a trip wire may have been in effect on that device. Given the safety concerns that gave us not only for this neighborhood but for all of the public safety professionals that are here working this, we held the scene overnight so that we can process it in daylight in a much safer way.”
The area was swept for additional devices Monday morning, but none were found, Manley said. Specialists from the ATF and the FBI were at the scene Monday to conduct “post-blast investigation.”
Manley said additional resources were being brought to Austin to assist, including bomb technicians from San Antonio and Houston and the Texas Department of Public Safety is also assisting. Over 500 agents and their teams are working in Austin from federal agencies, Manley said. Additional agents are en route to the city.
Manley said, “There’s still a significant amount of evidence, as you can imagine with a blast scene like this, the evidence is strewn across a quite a significant distance and it’s going to take us a while to methodically go through and collect this evidence so that we get it right.”
He also gave an updated safety message to Austin residents.
“In the past we’ve been talking about the importance of not touching suspicious packages, not moving packages, not handling packages. The belief that we are now dealing with someone who is using trip wires shows a higher level of sophistication, a higher level of skill, so now what we are imploring the community to do is if you see any suspicious object or item that looks out of place, do not even approach it, but instead call 911 and report that to the police department so that we can send out folks to check that and ensure that it is safe,” Manley said. “Again, do not approach these suspicious items, anything you see, whether it be a bag, a backpack, a box, this is why we have avoided giving specific descriptions of the prior three devices because it was never confirmed that would be the design that this suspect or suspects would stick with.”
Frederick Milanowski, the special agent in charge of the ATF’s Houston field office, said Monday morning, “This device is a little more sophisticated from what we have seen to date. Trip wire is a victim actuated switch. It literally uses some kind of wire and when there is pressure is put on that wire it activates or detonates the device. So it can be either from tripping or if it or picking up the package, any tension that is put on that wire, sometimes it’s thin filament, sometimes it’s fishing line, but like the chief, said we are even more concerned now that if people see something suspicious that they just stay away from it altogether and contact law enforcement, because if they move that package or step on that trip wire, it’s likely to detonate.”
Milanowski said the evidence from the previous devices are at the ATF’s national laboratory and the evidence from the fourth device will also be sent there.
Christopher Combs, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Antonio field office, said Monday they made an “unprecedented response to Austin” to support the local law enforcement.
“With this trip wire, this changes things,” Combs said. “It’s more sophisticated, it’s not targeted to individuals, we are very concerned that with trip wires a child can be walking down the sidewalk and hit something, it is very important that here in Austin, if anyone sees anything suspicious, do not go near that package and immediately call law enforcement.”
Manley said the victims are still receiving care in the hospital, but investigators did have initial conversations with them to get an idea of where the device was.
“The device was sitting next to a fence,” Manley said. “The trip wire can be a filament wire, it can be fishing line, it can be a metal wire, so that’s why people just need to pay attention to see if there is a device that is seeded somewhere near, because the trip wire would be attached to the device and it would pull on it to activate.”
Manley said the victims were walking along a roadway on the sidewalk or the grassy area between the street and the fence.
Austin Police tweeted, “APD responding to Bomb Hotshot call in the 4800 block of Dawn Song Dr. Two male patients transported with unknown injuries. Please avoid the area.”
Hotshot is a term Austin Police use for high-priority calls.
Police asked anyone who saw anything suspicious Sunday night to report it to them by calling 911.
“If you have video surveillance on your house, whether it be surveillance cameras, Nest cameras, anything like that, we want to get your video footage so that we can have that analyzed and identify any suspicious persons, vehicles or anything that may be of interest to this investigation,” Manley said, speaking to residents of Travis Country. “Please contact us at 512-974-5210 so we can get in there quickly and get that video.”
Anthony Stephan House, 39, was killed in the first explosion on March 2 in the 1100 block of Haverford Drive. The blast occurred about 6:55 a.m. Police Chief Brian Manley said the device was “powerful” and caused significant damage to the front porch area of the home.
House was rushed to the hospital, where he died.
“That case was being investigated as a suspicious death,” Police Chief Brian Manley said on March 12. “It is now being reclassified and is now a homicide investigation as well. We are looking at these incidents as being related based on similarities that we have seen and the initial evidence that we have on hand here today compared to what we found on the scene of that explosion that took place a week back.”
The second explosion occurred on March 12 about 6:45 a.m. in the 4800 block of Oldfort Hill Drive, authorities said. It happened in a single-family house and appears to have been caused by a package that was placed on the porch. The explosion caused “significant” damage to the home, Police Chief Brian Manley said.
“What we understand at this point is that earlier this morning, one of the residents went out front, and there was a package on the front doorstep,” Manley said at a press conference. “They brought that package inside the residence and as they opened that package, both victims were in the kitchen and the package exploded causing the injuries that resulted in the young man’s death and the injuries to the adult female.”
The victims has been identified as 17-year-old Draylen Mason. His mother was injured.
“The United States Postal Service has reviewed its records and we do not believe at all that this was a delivery that came through the postal service,” Manley said. “The initial indication is that this was not a package that was delivered by any mail service. It was place on the front door step.”
Manley added, “The damage is significant, and there’s a lot of evidence that needs to be collected.”
He said the incident is, “very similar” to the March 2 incident. “That incident also occurred in the morning hours when the victim in that case went out front and found a package on their front steps that exploded, causing that individual’s death.”
Police said multiple 911 calls were made to report the third explosion, which sent the 75-year-old woman to the hospital with serious injuries that were feared to be life-threatening. Another woman, in her 80s, was evaluated at the scene, but was not injured in the blast, Austin-Travis County EMS said. The woman has not been identified.
The explosion occurred about 11:50 a.m., about an hour after police and the FBI held a briefing at the scene of the other March 12 explosion. Austin Police Chief Brian Manley and other officials left the first scene to head to the second, which was in the 6700 block of Galindo Street.
“Similar to the other two incidents … is that the victim in this incident came outside of her residence and found a package out front and she picked up the package and at that point the box detonated,” Manley said. “She was significantly injured in that explosion. We are praying and thinking of her and hoping for a recovery from this incident.”
The Galindo Street home is about 16 miles away from the Haverford Drive home where the first explosion occurred on March 2. It is about 6 miles away from the Oldfort Hill Drive home where the second explosion occurred.
4. Local, State & Federal Authorities Pleaded With People to Come Forward With Information & Said It Would Take a Community Effort to Solve the Case
On Sunday, just hours before the fourth bombing, the reward for information about the three bombings was increased to $115,000.
“We need this to stop, we’re very concerned that people can get hurt by this just by walking now, we have trip wires. $100,000 is a lot of money. So I’m hoping that someone knows something that they can call us and help us stop what’s going on here,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs said.
“We believe that the recent explosive incidents that have occurred in the city of Austin were meant to send a message,” Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said Sunday, hours before the latest emergency call to rattle the city. “The person or persons understands what that message is and are responsible for constructing or delivering the devices and we hope this person or persons is watching and will reach out to us before anyone else is injured or anyone else is killed out of this event.”
He added, “These events in Austin have garnered worldwide attention and we assure you that we are listening. We want to understand what brought you to this point and we want to listen to you.”
Manley said Monday, “This has to be a community response. This is something we are going to solve as a community. The officers that are working the neighborhoods are paying attention not only for the suspicious packages but also for items that may look out of place. The Department of Public Safety is going to send additional troopers into Austin to help us patrol and be visible and look for those suspicious items or just to inform the community of where we are at.”
5. Police Urged the Public to Remain Vigilant, Saying They Do Not Know ‘Where the Suspect Has Spent His Last 24 Hours’ & There Could Be More Bombs Already Set
Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said Wednesday, “We have talked about the importance of remaining vigilant and looking out for each other. I want to continue that message as we stand her this morning though, because we don’t know where this suspect has spent last 24 and therefore we still need to remain vigilant to ensure that no other packages or devices have been left in the community. If you see something that looks suspicious, if you see something that is out of place, if you see something that gives you concern, call 911 and let us know so that we don’t experience anymore tragedies in our communities because we have had far to many over the past three weeks.”
ATF Special Agent Frederick Milanowski echoed that sentiment.
“I also want to thank the public who continue to support us and cooperate with us and continued to send in tips, and as the chief said, we want them to continue to be vigilant,” Milanowski said. “We are concerned that there still may be other devices out there and we want to ensure that if people see suspicious packages or bags, they continue to call 911 and report that to police so we can respond and deal with those packages.”
FBI Special Agent Christopher Combs said at the press conference, “Today is a great day for law enforcement. I’d like to thank the partners, there’s an exceptional relationship here in Texas, particularly in Austin. Chief Manley did an unbelievable job. The federal government brought the full resources of federal law enforcement here to solve this and to stop the injuring and the killing that was occurring.”
Combs added, “We are not done yet. It is a long day ahead, we are concerned that there may be other packages that are out there. We need the public to remain vigilant, especially today as we go through this investigation. We will be here as long as it takes with our partners to figure out exactly what happened, why it happened and how it happened. This is what law enforcement does everyday in this country. The brave men and women of the Austin Police Department put their lives on the line tonight to stop this man from setting off bombs.”
President Donald Trump, who had previously called the bombings “terrible” and the bomber “a very, very sick individual,” tweeted Wednesday morning, “AUSTIN BOMBING SUSPECT IS DEAD. Great job by law enforcement and all concerned!”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted, “BIG NEWS. The Austin Bomber is dead. More work needs to be done to ensure no more bombs had been sent before he died. The investigation continues to learn more information. Congratulations to the combined law enforcement effort.”