Pflugerville, TX – Suspected serial bomber Mark Anthony Conditt, 23, who had been terrorizing Austin for three weeks blew himself up early Wednesday morning, as law enforcement moved to take him into custody.
Police had tracked the 23-year-old male suspect to a hotel located about 20 miles north of the state capital of Austin.
“The suspect is deceased and has significant injuries from a blast that occurred from detonating a bomb inside his vehicle,” Austin Chief Brian Manley told reporters at a press conference before daybreak on Wednesday.
“We believe that this individual is responsible for all incidents that have taken place in Austin starting on March 2, and those that occurred since then as well,” Chief Manley said.
Law enforcement sources told the Austin American-Statesman that Conditt’s Google history showed investigators that he’d been seeking out other addresses in Austin that police believed were going to be his next targets.
On Tuesday, Texas Department of Public Safety troopers visited two addresses in the Cedar Park area to warn the residents that they may have been targeted, the Statesman reported.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said authorities had been tracking the suspect for a couple of days before they located him at the hotel in Round Rock, not far from his hometown of Pflugerville.
“We’ve known for a couple of days who the suspect likely was,” Abbott said. “Law enforcement is at his house in Pflugerville where we are learning whether or not that was the location he was making his bombs.”
Chief Manley urged the community to remain vigilant as police don’t know what bombs the suspect may have placed in the past couple of days.
The chief explained that the suspect had become a person of interest about 36 hours before he dramatically blew himself up on the side of a road.
Witnesses had given authorities a description of the suspect and his vehicle, and police had located him at the hotel and were investigating, the chief said.
Police had no contact with the suspect prior to him blowing himself up.
Authorities set up to watch the hotel’s parking lot while they waited for tactical teams and ballistic equipment to arrive at the scene, when the suspect’s vehicle suddenly started to drive away, Chief Manley said.
Police followed him until he pulled over. When the vehicle stopped, Austin SWAT officers approached the suspect’s vehicle, and the suspect detonated an explosive device inside his vehicle, the chief said.
One SWAT officer fired his weapon at the vehicle, and another SWAT officer was knocked backwards by the blast from inside the vehicle, and suffered minor injuries, Chief Manley said.
Authorities would not confirm that the suspect was acting on his own, and urged continued caution while they complete their investigation.
“We do believe that all of these are related and that he is responsible for these based on the similarities that we have seen in all of the devices, and in the evidence we’re finding from those that did detonate,” Chief Manley said.
The chief asked residents of Austin and other communities, specifically Round Rock, to remain vigilant “so that we don’t experience any more tragedies in our communities.”
“We are concerned that there may be other suspicious packages out there,” the chief said, explaining that they don’t know what the bomber may have put in place in the last 24 hours.
The governor thanked what he called “the army” of local, state, and federal law enforcement officials who have been investigating the bombings.
District Attorney Margaret Moore told the Statesman that "the participation has been truly remarkable by all the agencies involved, including the FBI, ATF, DPS, and the Postal Inspector.”
“[Austin police] was the lead all the way and threw everything at it. It was magnificent effort," Moore said.
Police were still seeking a motive in the serial bombings.
The suspect had a bomb with him, which he used to kill himself, but they don’t know if he was on his way to plant it somewhere when police intervened.