ROUND ROCK, Texas – The suspect of the deadly bombings that terrorized Austin blew himself up early Wednesday as the authorities closed in on him, a gruesome end to a three-week manhunt. But the police warned that more bombs could be.
The young man behind the attacks was identified as Mark Anthony Conditt, an unemployed 24-year-old, who bought bomb-making materials at the Home Depot. His motive remained a mystery, along with the question of whether he acted alone, in the five bombings in the Texas capital city and the suburbs of San Antonio, that two people were killed and four others injured.
The police know Conditt with store surveillance video, cell phone signals, and the testimonies of a strange-looking customer, make a purchase, while wearing a disguise, a blonde wig, and gloves.
The officers located his vehicle in a hotel on Interstate 35 in the suburb of Round Rock. The officers were waiting for armoured vehicles to arrive before you are in for a arrest when his vehicle began to drive away, Austin police chief Brian Manley said at a press conference.
Authorities followed the vehicle, which ran into a ditch on the side of the road, ” he said.
When the members of the SWAT team approached, the suspected explosion of an explosive device in the vehicle, the head of the police said.
A law enforcement official, on the condition that the dead man’s name. The official, who is briefed on the study, told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the matter in public.
Investigators released few details about Conditt, with the exception of his age and that he was white. Online postings indicate that he was home schooled. He later attended Austin Community College from 2010 to 2012, according to a college spokeswoman, but he did not graduate.
In the messages dating back to 2012, a blogger who identified himself as Mark Conditt of the suburbs of Pflugerville and wrote that gay marriage should be illegal. He also called for the elimination of sex offender registrations, and argued in favor of the death penalty. He made a list of his interests, such as cycling, tennis and listening to music.
Of gay marriage, Conditt wrote: “Homosexuality is not natural. Just look at the male and female organs. They are clearly designed for the few.”
The mayor of Pflugerville, which is not far from the site of the first bombing, said the suspect lived in his city, just two blocks away from his house.
Pflugerville resident Jay Schulze said he was jogging Tuesday night when he was stopped by police and asked about the attacks. He said that the police flew drones over a house for about six hours between Tuesday evening and early Wednesday morning.
He described the house in which the drones fly as “a weird house with a lot of people come and go” and a little rundown.
A neighbor who saw Conditt grow, he says, “always seemed he was smart” and “polite.” Jeff Reeb said he lived next Conditt the parents of about 17 years, and he described them as good neighbors. He said Conditt, who lived with roommates, a few miles away, had visited his parents regularly.
Austin was hit with four package bombing will start on 2 March. A fifth parcel bomb went off early Tuesday at a FedEx distribution center near San Antonio.
Rep. Michael McCaul, a Republican from Austin, said Conditt the “fatal mistake” was walking into a FedEx store to mail a package, because that allowed authorities to obtain surveillance video that showed him and his vehicle along with his license plate number. From there, he told Austin television station KXAN, researchers can identify the suspect, and eventually track him using his mobile phone.
The police warned Wednesday of the possibility that more bombs had yet to be found.
“We don’t know where this defendant has in his last 24 hours, and that we therefore still need to remain vigilant to ensure that no other packages or devices are left to the community,” Manley said.
At noon, Pflugerville police began the evacuation of the area around the suspect’s home, deploy a robot to check for explosives.
The authorities initially believed the bombing may have been hate crimes because the victims of the first explosion were black, but they stem from the theory, after the Hispanic-white victims from different parts of the city were also affected.
Fred Milanowski, an agent of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said it was “difficult to say” if the bombing suspect acted alone.
“What we do know is that we believe that the same person is built in each of these devices,” said Milanowski, the agent who was in charge of the Houston division of the ATF.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler thanked law enforcement for their work in the take down of the suspect and urged the residents to continue to report anything that appeared suspicious or out of place.
Isaac Figueroa, 26, said he and his brother heard sirens and helicopters early Wednesday in the area and drove in the direction of them, then cut through the nearby woods on foot, after being on a roadblock of police.
Figueroa said she saw a sport utility vehicle that was pinned between the vehicles and the ” looked like it had rammed out of the way.” He said that he saw the police, the deployment of a robot to go explore in the Jeep.
President Donald Trump, who had earlier said who was responsible for the Austin bombing was “obviously a very sick person or persons,” tweeted, “AUSTIN BOMBING SUSPECT IS DEAD. Great job by law enforcement and all involved!”
The suspicious death was followed by a day of rapid-fire developments in the case. Early Tuesday, a bomb in a package exploded as it along a conveyor belt at a FedEx shipping center in Schertz, northeast of San Antonio and about 60 miles (95 km south-west of Austin.
Later in the day, the police sent a bomb squad to a FedEx facility outside of the Austin airport to check on a suspicious package. Authorities later said the package contained an explosive that was strapped to the other bombing.
The Schertz blast came two days after a bombing injured two men Sunday night in the Austin neighborhood about 3 miles (5 kilometers) from the FedEx store. It was caused by an almost invisible tripwire.
Associated Press writers Will Weissert and Paul J. Weber in Austin, Sadie Gurman in Washington and Tim Jacobs in Chicago contributed to this report.