Austin bomb suspect blows himself up as police close in

The suspect in a spate of bombings that terrorized residents of Austin, Texas, died early Wednesday after detonating an explosive inside his vehicle as a SWAT team tried to apprehend him on the side of a highway, officials said.

Authorities had tracked the suspect — a 24-year-old white man — to a hotel in Round Rock, a city in the Austin metropolitan area, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said at a news conference.

Police did not name the bomber, but two law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation identified him to NBC News as Mark Anthony Conditt.

Police were able to locate Conditt using a variety of tactics, including cellphone triangulation. Surveillance footage taken at an Austin FedEx was also used to apprehend him.

Authorities shared the surveillance footage showing a man believed to be Conditt entering a FedEx facility wearing what appeared to be a blonde wig and dropping off a package.

Early Wednesday, police tracked Conditt’s vehicle until he pulled over on Interstate 35 and “the suspect detonated a bomb inside the vehicle, knocking one of our SWAT officers back,” Manley said, adding that the officer sustained minor injuries.

Another member of the SWAT team fired and, as is standard practice, has been placed on administrative duty while the investigation continues, Manley said.

“The suspect is deceased and has significant injuries from a blast that occurred from detonating a bomb inside his vehicle,” he added.

Shortly after the announcement, President Donald Trump congratulated law enforcement personnel.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler echoed the praise on “Today”: “As a community, we’re just really relieved and just incredibly thankful for this army of law enforcement that has been in our community for the last week or so.”

The police, FBI, and personnel with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were deployed to the scene, the ATF said in a tweet earlier in the morning.

The incident happened at around 2 a.m. local time (3 a.m. ET), according to NBC affiliate KXAN.

Even though the suspect is dead, officials warned locals to keep on the lookout for other possible explosives.

“This is the culmination of three very long weeks for our community,” Manley said. “We don’t know where the suspect has spent his last 24 hours, and therefore we still need to remain vigilant to ensure no other packages or devices have been left in the community.”

ATF Special Agent in Charge Fred Milanowski told reporters that officials were “concerned that there may still be other devices out there.”

Austin has been on edge after a series of package or other bombs detonated across the city over the past few weeks.

The most recent occurred Sunday when two people were injured by a device believed to have used a tripwire.

Authorities have warned that the devices appeared to be getting more sophisticated and asked residents of one neighborhood to stay indoors Monday.

The FBI has sent 350 special agents to the Texas capital as well as extra bomb squads.

“We are clearly dealing with a serial bomber,” Manley said Monday. “We will have to determine if we see a specific ideology behind this.”




Map: Location of four explosions in the Austin area

Map locates four explosions in the Austin area between March 2nd and March 18th Roque Ruiz

Andrew Blankstein reported from New York, and Alexander Smith from London.

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