PFLUGERVILLE, Texas – The mother of a man who lived with suspected serial bomber Mark Conditt in a house north of Austin says her son was held in custody until after Conditt died in a deadly confrontation with the police.
Jennifer Withers told The Associated Press that her 26-year-old son, Collin Thomas, was the walk from work Tuesday night in Pflugerville to the house that he and another man shared with Conditt when a group of officers “and flew at him.” Withers, who spoke during an interview Thursday, said Thomas, who is black, was handcuffed, taken into custody by SWAT officers and questioned about the bombings.
She said that he was held overnight, but that none of his family was notified about where he was.
Conditt died early Wednesday after an explosion of a bomb as the police are about to arrest him. Thomas was finally released.
The police said earlier Thursday that they never released Conditt other roommate. She refused to name him, saying he was at this time not arrested.
Austin police spokeswoman Anna Sabana said no roommate has been charged. She said that she did not know why Thomas was arrested with violence in the way his mother described.
Withers said Thomas lived with Conditt for more than three months in a house Conditt was with the renovation of his father. She said that her son was close to a family in the Christian church that he visited, and that she introduced him to Conditt the family who is also a Christian.
She said that her son and the 23-year-old Conditt, who was white, “seemed to get along fine.”
“Collin said that they would all sit and chat and talk,” Withers said.
She said that her son knew nothing about the bombs and that they are never to Conditt.
Conditt, the first two bombs killed and injured black victims, leading to speculation that they are hate crimes — although researchers are backing off of those theories somewhat by later victims were Hispanic and white.
They now say that they do not know what motivated him.
Conditt made on 25 minutes with the mobile recording before his death. It was restored after he explodes one of his own bombs along the side of Interstate 35 just outside of Austin as a SWAT team moved.
But the researchers say that the record provides few clues about the Conditt motives — and they have refused to give in to the public, citing the ongoing investigation.
Conditt built bombs planted in different parts of Austin that killed two people and seriously injured four others in three weeks starting on 2 March. He began with the placing of the explosives in packages left overnight on the sidewalk, then rigged an explosive to a tripwire along a public path. Finally, he sent two parcels with bombs via FedEx.
As fear grew, Conditt was eventually tracked down by the store surveillance video, gsm-signals and the evidence of a customer’s shipment with FedEx packages in a disguise that is a blonde wig, and gloves.
The police found him early Wednesday in a hotel. And when his car moved, she followed him and forced him off the road, setting up the confrontation, ending in an explosion.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler praised police officers for stopping Conditt sport utility vehicle before he was on the highway, even though they were aware he probably had a explosive devices and they had not so much as a back-up planned.
“We hear about the people who are in danger to keep us safe and we had one of those moments in very graphic and specific details,” Adler said at a press conference on Thursday.
The NAACP Austin President Nelson Linder said the manhunt’s end was a relief, but that the public need answers on what motivated Conditt, including the question of whether the first two victims were targeted because they are from prominent black families.
“I don’t think it’s random at this point,” Linder said. “We are going to withhold our judgment and continue to search for information and why he killed people.”
Investigators have released few details about Conditt, who was unemployed, home-schooled and attended Austin Community College until 2012, but not the graduation.
The Austin American-Statesman reported Thursday that a bomb Conditt created and sent via FedEx was addressed to an employee of Austin city centre spa. It was intercepted at a processing center without exploding.
Anita Ward works in Austin Med Spa and says that the police and the federal agents told her that her daughter, who also work in the factory, was intended to be the recipient of the unexploded package.
Ward refused to name her daughter, that they said they did not know Conditt. The police has not yet commented.