The weeks-long nightmare that terrorized Austin, TX, might finally be over. The suspect in a series of bombings that killed two people and injured at least four more died in a police standoff early in the morning of March 21, and his identity has been revealed to the press: Mark Anthony Conditt.
Conditt was 23 or 24 years old, USA Today reports. After a home-schooling education, he received a degree from Austin Community College's Northridge campus. He repaired computers and worked at Crux Semiconductor in Austin. Pflugerville Mayor Victor Gonzales said Conditt lived two blocks from him in Plugerville, a Texan city 20 miles north of Austin.
Danene Conditt, who identifies herself on Facebook as Conditt's mother, posted a photo of Conditt in February 2013, announcing his graduation. "He's thinking of taking some time to figure out what he wants to do… maybe a mission trip," she wrote.
Instead, he apparently turned to a life of terrorism, suspected in four bombings in Austin and one in San Antonio, TX. Neighbor Fralen Allen, who works near Conditt's home, told USA Today she was stunned and sickened. "Surely in hindsight someone must have known and maybe this could have been prevented," she said.
As CNN reports, investigators identified him as a person of interest after realizing the explosives were being made from common household ingredients. They scanned receipts for Austin-area stores and finally found suspicious purchases Conditt had made. They used federal search warrants to get his IP address and used that address to see his Google search history. But the investigators' big break came when they saw security footage of Conditt shipping an explosive device from a FedEx store in South Austin. “The biggest mistake the guy made was going to FedEx,” a federal law enforcement official told USA Today.
Using cell phone technology, the authorities tracked Conditt to a hotel in Round Rock, TX, north of Austin. While police and federal agents waited outside that hotel for tactical teams to arrive, Conditt drove off. The authorities pursued him as he drove down a service road along I-35. After coming to a stop in a ditch, Conditt detonated an explosive in his vehicle, killing himself and injuring an officer.
Austin Police Chief Manley described the events of March 21 as "the culmination of three very long weeks in our community." But because the authorities don't know where Conditt has been for the past 24 hours or whether he had sent more packages, Manley warned Austin residents to stay vigilant.