Update (3:15pmET March 21) This post has been updated to include a statement from the Conditt family.
The man who police say was responsible for the series of bombings that terrorized Austin, Texas this month, killing two people and injuring five others, has been identified as Mark Anthony Conditt.
Conditt killed himself this morning (March 21) with an explosive device in his car after he was pursued by police in Round Rock, a town 20 miles north of Austin, authorities said.
An aunt of Conditt read a statement to CNN saying his family had “no idea of the darkness that Mark must have been in”:
We are devastated and broken at the news that our family could be involved in such an awful way. We had no idea of the darkness that Mark must have been in. Our family is a normal family in every way. We love, we pray, and we try to inspire and serve others. Right now our prayers are for those families that have lost loved ones, for those impacted in any way, and for the soul of our Mark. We are grieving and we are in shock. Please respect our privacy as we deal with this terrible, terrible knowledge and try to support each other through this time.
Acting on information received over the past 36 hours, including surveillance video, investigators had tracked Conditt to a hotel in Round Rock, where heavily armed police surrounded the building and called for backup. But before additional teams could arrive, Conditt drove away. Officers gave chase as he pulled into a ditch on Interstate 35, where SWAT officers then approached on foot.
According to Austin Police Chief Brian Manley, Conditt then “detonated a bomb inside the vehicle, knocking one officer back,” slightly injuring him. Manley told reporters at the scene that a SWAT officer had fired his weapon at Conditt, but it’s unclear if he was shot.
Manley says investigators don’t yet have an idea about what prompted Conditt to carry out the attacks. “We do not understand what motivated him to do what he did,” he told reporters.
Investigators identified Conditt on March 20 though surveillance video that showed him taking two packages into a FedEx store in Austin wearing a hat and gloves, according to Mayor Steve Adler. Authorities also had received information from Google and Conditt’s computer history that showed he was looking for information on where to go to ship devices, according to KVUE, a local ABC affiliate.
Conditt used “exotic batteries” from Asia to make the bombs, which helped police to quickly link the explosions to the same attacker, according to NBC News.
Police haven’t ruled out the possibility he had accomplices or hid additional devices that haven’t yet detonated. “We still need to remain vigilant,” Manley told reporters. “We do not know where he has been in the past 24 hours.”
- Mark Anthony Conditt was a 23-year-old white man according to public records (though police officials have said Conditt is 24), and is a resident of Pflugerville, a town near Round Rock located about 20 minutes north of Austin.
- The suspect is believed to have lived with two roommates who are not currently considered suspects, according to Texas governor Greg Abbott. Investigators are looking into whether that was the location he where he was making the bombs.
- Conditt was homeschooled growing up. His mother posted a photo on Facebook in February 2013 to commemorate the completion of his high school-level education.
- He attended Austin Community college for two years but did not graduate, a spokeswoman confirmed to CNN.
- NBC News reports that Conditt was the apparent author of a political blog written in 2012 as a part of a government-class project. In posts there, the writer said gay marriage should be illegal and that the US should do away with sex-offender registries. He also stated support for the death penalty, because “living criminals harm and murder, again.”
- The Austin Statesman reports Conditt worked at Crux Manufacturing in Austin as a “purchasing agent/buyer/shipping and receiving.” He was hired when he was 19, according to a staff member, and let go last August because he “wasn’t meeting expectations.”