Update: March 21, 1:30 p.m.
NBC News has identified the bomber:
Police did not name the bomber, but two law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation identified him to NBC News as Mark Anthony Conditt, 23.
Evidently, the police were able to track identify and track the bomber by looking at cell phone activity in the bombing areas at the time of the attacks. Conditt turned his cell phone on, which allowed authorities to locate him in Round Rock.
Early Wednesday morning, the suspect in the Austin bombings blew himself up after police tracked him to a hotel in Round Rock, Texas. After police surrounded the hotel, the as-of-yet unidentified young man attempted to drive away, then stopped. When the SWAT team closed in, he detonated a device in his car, killing himself and injuring one SWAT officer, who was thrown back by the blast. Authorities believe this man was behind all the attacks in Austin, but still caution Austinites to remain vigilant, as they don’t know if there were any other devices planted.
The bomber has been identified only as a 24-year-old white male. Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said that the medical examiner would have to confirm the suspect’s identity and the next of kin would have to be notified before a name is released. It’s still unclear what motivated this young man’s violent actions. As is the case with so many killers who die before being apprehended, we will likely never know.
Liberty Nation’s own Austinite, Jeff Charles, has been following the bombings. The first three were hand delivered devices that detonated at the front door of the victims’ homes and occurred on March 2 and 12. Anthony House and Draylen Mason were killed, and Esperanza Herrera was injured. The fourth attack took place March 18. Two men were injured when they accidentally activated a tripwire rigged device on a sidewalk. Finally, on Tuesday, March 20, one device exploded in a FedEx facility in San Antonio, injuring one employee who was treated on site.
FedEx informed authorities of a suspicious man, who seemed to be wearing gloves and a wig, who shipped two packages Sunday evening around 7:30 local time. While one of the packages detonated on an automatic conveyor in a sorting facility, police say that FedEx was not the target. The second device was recovered by police. It is likely FedEx’s surveillance footage and clues left inside the unexploded package that led investigators to their suspect, and ultimately, to that hotel outside Austin.
“This is the culmination of three very long weeks in our community,” Chief Manley said. CBS News reported that Manley could be seen with a cup of coffee and a smile, weary though he must have been.
The bomber may be dead, but it’s still unclear what his motives were or even if he acted alone. Some package bombs may still be out there, so police warn people in the Austin area to continue to be very careful when handling suspicious items.
The explosion occurred just off I-35 South. Law enforcement has closed the road near the explosion for their investigation, and southbound traffic is backed up for miles. For those driving in the Round Rock area along I-35, expect detours and slowdowns.