Austin bombing suspect’s uncle says that he was smart, kind

AUSTIN, Texas – A 23-year-old suspected of planting deadly bombs that terrorized Austin for three weeks, was described Wednesday by his uncle as a smart and friendly “computer nerd” and a friend said that he was an assertive person who would end up as “a kind of dominant and intimidating in conversation.”

Neither had any idea what would have motivated Mark Anthony Conditt, who authorities say died after the explosion of a bomb in his sport utility vehicle when the officers moved in for an arrest in the near of Austin. The attacks in the Texas capital city and the suburbs of San Antonio, two people were killed and four others injured.

“I mean, this is coming from nothing. We just don’t know what. I don’t know how many ways to say it, but everyone is blindsided by this,” Conditt’s uncle, Mike Courtney of Lakewood, Colorado, told The Associated Press.

During a press conference Wednesday night, Austin police chief Brian Manley said that he is of the opinion that a 25-minute recording on the mobile phone found with Conditt a “confession.” Manley said Conditt talk in detail about the recording about the differences between the bombs that he has built. The chief called the band “the outrage of a very challenged young man.”

Manley said that they don’t yet know a motive, which suggests that there might not be one. He said where the packages were placed, seems to be random.

Conditt grew up in Pflugerville, a suburb just northeast of Austin, where he was still alive after the removal of his parents at home. On Wednesday, authorities recovered homemade explosives from the inside of the house, which he shared with roommates and a few miles from his childhood home.

Conditt’s family said in a statement, she had no idea of the darkness that Mark must have been.”

Conditt was the oldest of four children, who were all home schooled.

Jeff Reeb, a neighbor of Conditt’s parents in Pflugerville for about 17 years, said he looked Conditt growing up and that he seemed “smart” and “polite.” Reeb, 75, said Conditt and his grandson played together in high school and that Conditt regularly visited his parents, who Reeb is described as good neighbors.

Conditt attended Austin Community College from 2010 to 2012 and was a business administration major, but he did not graduate, according to the college spokeswoman Jessica Vess. She said data show that there are no disciplinary actions were taken against Conditt.

Although he worked for a time at a production company, Gov. Greg Abbott told KXAN-TV in Austin that Conditt apparently was unemployed more recently and had no criminal record.

Conditt few visible traces on social media. Apart from a few photos of him on his family’s Facebook pages, he was focused on a range of topics in an online blog that he was in 2012. Vess said that he had made in the blog as part of the AMERICAN government class project.

In the blog with the title “Defining my Position”, he gives his opinion about a number of things, often in response to the comments of someone else. Conditt wrote that gay marriage should be illegal, argues in favor of the death penalty and gave his thoughts on “why we might want to consider” the elimination of sex offender registries.

Of gay marriage, Conditt wrote: “Homosexuality is not natural. Just look at the male and female organs. They are clearly designed for the few.”

In the “about me” section of the blog, Conditt wrote that he is not “politically inclined,” says he considered himself as a conservative, but thought that he does not have enough information “to defend my position as well as it should be defended.” He said that he hoped that the class would help him do that.

A friend of Conditt described him as a smart, opinionated and often intimidating. Jeremiah Johnson, 24, told the Austin American-Statesman that he is close to Conditt in 2012 and 2013. Jensen said they were both home-schooled and he would often go to the Conditt house for lunch after church on Sunday and they have a Bible study and other activities together.

“I have no idea what the cause was of him to make those bombs,” Jensen told the newspaper .

He called Conditt a deep thinker.”

“When I met Mark, he was really rough around the edges,” Jensen said. “He was a very assertive person and would . finally on a kind of domineering and intimidating in conversation. Many people did not understand him and where he came from. He only wanted to tell the truth. What I remember about him is that he is a push-back at you if you said something without thinking.”

He said: “the nature of the hate that he succumbed to” was not what Conditt believed in during high school.

“I don’t know what happened along the way,” Jensen said.

Jensen said Conditt had participated in the regular church services at the Austin Stone Community of the Church, but he did not know or Conditt “stuck to his faith.” A spokesman of the municipality said that there were no records of previous agreement or previous involvement by Conditt were found.

Congressman Michael McCaul told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the suspect matched the FBI profile suggests that the bomber was probably a white man. But McCaul said a psychological profile probably not be known until researchers go by Conditt’s writings and social media posts.


Warren and Dunklin reported from Dallas. Banda reported from Lakewood, Colorado. Associated Press reporters Shawn Chen in Chicago, and Emily Schmall, Jim Vertuno and Will Weissert in Pflugerville also contributed.

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