Agents Sweep Home Of Dead Suspect In Serial Austin Bombings
Technicians have removed bomb components and homemade explosives from inside the Pflugerville home of an Austin bombing suspect who died early this morning, officials said.
ATF Special Agent in Charge Fred Milanowski said the bombmaker had a "signature style" and that components in the house were similar to components found in the devices that exploded this month in Austin.
One of the rooms had a considerable amount of bomb-making material, he said.
Agents were still processing the house on Second Street and it would be several hours before residents would be allowed to return to the neighborhood, Pflugerville Police Chief Jessica Robledo said.
Interim Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said the 23-year-old suspect detonated a bomb as a SWAT team approached his vehicle in Round Rock early this morning; an officer also fired a gun at him. The suspect was found dead in the car, but it was unclear whether he died from the blast or from gunfire.
"The suspect is deceased and has significant injuries from a blast that occurred from detonating a bomb inside his vehicle," Manley said at a news conference.
A law enforcement source told KUT the suspect's name was Mark Anthony Conditt. Officials believe he was responsible for all the bombing incidents since March 2, but are unsure of a motive.
A federal criminal complaint and arrest warrant had been filed against Conditt last night. It charged him with one count of unlawful possession and transfer of a destructive device.
The Austin Police Department said investigators were questioning two people who lived with Conditt. Neither is under arrest.
Investigators have detained two roommates of the Austin bombing suspect. One roommate was detained, questioned and released. The other is currently being questioned. Their names will not be released because they are not under arrest at this time. APD PIO— Austin Police Department (@Austin_Police) March 21, 2018
"We still need to remain vigilant to ensure that no other packages or devices have been left through the community," Manley said.
Manley said agents had tracked a vehicle linked to Conditt to a hotel parking lot in Round Rock. He drove off as law enforcement officers were waiting for tactical units to arrive. They pursued him to a ditch along the I-35 Frontage Road. Manley said a bomb exploded in the car as officers approached and that an officer also fired at him.
"We can recognize that this is really good news. ... There's no doubt in law enforcement that this is the responsible guy," Austin Mayor Steve Adler told KUT. "[But] it's absolutely true the investigation is continuing. We don't know where he's been the last 24 hours, and there are other outstanding questions. So, we're asking the community to continue to stay vigilant."
On Fox News this morning, Gov. Greg Abbott praised federal, state and local law enforcement officials for the "quintessential example of a team effort to get to bottom of this as quickly as possible, to save as many lives as possible.”
He referred to Conditt as the "mastermind" in the bombings and said he had been on law enforcement's radar for a couple days.
"I think there is a treasure trove of ... digital information [in his house] that should shed light more upon who he is, what he was doing and why he was doing it," he told Fox.
According to posts on his mother's Facebook page, Conditt was home-schooled. Austin Community College confirmed he attended the school from 2010-2012. His declared major was business administration, but he did not graduate.
Conditt had no record of military service, as some had speculated.
A friend of Conditt's called him a "deep thinker" and "very smart guy."
"I think that he was maybe lonely when he died,” Jeremiah Jensen said.
“You never go around thinking ... that this person I knew, that I ate with, that I talked with, is someday going to kill people," he said. "I just really wished that he had reached out or that I had known that he was struggling in some way, that I could have just talked to him one time before he went down this path.”
Neighbor Debbie Alexander said she was "shocked, uneasy, confused – everything you could feel just to know it's in your neighborhood, in your community. Not that we are exempt, but it is a quiet area. ... I still can't believe I'm here talking to you."
Next-door neighbor Jeff Reeb didn't say there was anything unusual about him.
"He was a young kid that grew into an older kid, who left his parents' house and went on, as I understood, and bought his own house and stuff – just like anyone else would," he said.
President Trump tweeted about the news this morning:
AUSTIN BOMBING SUSPECT IS DEAD. Great job by law enforcement and all concerned!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 21, 2018
Five explosions have taken place across the city and in the San Antonio suburb of Schertz since March 2, killing 39-year-old Anthony Stephan House and 17-year-old Draylen Mason. Four others have been injured.
On Tuesday, two package bombs were found at FedEx facilities – one in Schertz and another on McKinney Falls Parkway by the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. The first package exploded on a conveyor; the second was defused by authorities.
Authorities linked the packages to a FedEx Office in Sunset Valley. Surveillance videos from the store helped identify Conditt as a suspect.
This story is developing.