The suspect in five bombings that left two people dead and five others injured in Austin, Texas, has died after a confrontation with police in Round Rock, authorities said the morning of March 21. He has been identified as Mark Anthony Conditt, NBC News reported, citing two federal law enforcement sources.
The alleged serial bomber lived with two roommates, who authorities said were cooperating with the investigation.
Conditt is deceased after detonating a bomb inside of a car on Interstate 35 after a SWAT team member fired at him, according to Austin Police Department Chief Brian Manley. Authorities ruled his death as a suicide.
While neither roommate was identified by authorities, a mother of said her son, Collin Thomas, lived with the suspected serial bomber.
Authorities have not ruled either roommate as a suspect, but did say one is considered a “person of interest.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Roommates Were Detained, & One Is Considered a ‘Person of Interest’
Authorities temporarily detained both roommates who lived with Conditt, and one is considered a “person of interest,” according to the Houston Chronicle. Both were later released.
On March 26, U.S. Rep Michael McCaul, chairman of the U.S. Homeland Security Committee, said one unidentified roommate is being questioned about what he may have known in the ongoing investigation, the station reported.
Austin police stated March 21 that while one was questioned and later released, the other roommate was still being held for questioning, according to Houston Public Media.
Authorities haven’t released the names of the roommates because they have not been placed under arrest.
Authorities identified the suspect, Mark Conditt, about 9 p.m. Tuesday night after developing several leads over a 24 to 36-hour period, including surveillance video taken at a South Austin FedEx shipping center, WFAA-TV reported. The surveillance video showed a man appearing to wear a wig and gloves while dropping off packages at the store.
Conditt used an “exotic” and foreign battery in each of his explosives, which allowed authorities to link the bombings together, NBC News reported. The batteries came from Asia, according to the news outlet.
An arrest warrant was issued March 21 for Conditt on a charge of unlawful possession and transfer of a destructive device.
2. They Were Cooperating With Authorities & Mother of One Said Officers ‘Flew at Him’
When authorities initially stated that the two roommates were detained, they emphasized that the two were cooperating.
“I would venture to say those two roommates are not at this time suspects,” Gov. Greg Abbott stated, adding they were cooperating with authorities.
Jennifer Withers told The Associated Press March 22 that her 26-year-old black son, Collin Thomas, was walking home from work Tuesday in Pflugerville, just north of Austin, to the house he and another roommate shared with the suspected serial bomber when a group of officers “flew at him.”
Withers said Thomas was questioned about the bombings but none of his family was notified about his whereabouts. He was released after Conditt died, the mother said.
According to Austin police spokeswoman Anna Sabana, neither roommate has been charged.
Withers emphasized that her son knew nothing of the bombings and was released before the unidentified roommate, adding that her son “seemed to get along fine” with Conditt.
3. They Resided in Pflugerville With Conditt & Explosives Were Found in the Home
Mark Conditt lived on North Second Street in Pflugerville, according to local news reports. Police have shut down the area around his home, which is near Wilbarger Street. Texas Governor Greg Abbott said on Fox News that the suspect lived with two roommates, who were not considered to be suspects at the time. They were being interviewed by police, Abbott said. The governor added that a “treasure trove” of information was found inside the house.
“Just In: Explosives experts from FBI & ATF are working to safely remove & dispose of homemade explosives located inside a house at the 400 blk of 2nd St North in Pflugerville,” KVUE reporter Albert Ramon tweeted Wednesday afternoon. “Residents evacuated in a 4 blk radius from N Railroad Ave to City Park Road & north of West Pecan St.”
Police are not yet ruling out that others were involved in the bombings, KTBC-TV reported. Police Chief Brian Manley said “This investigation is ongoing. We want to make sure that we confirmed that he either acted alone or if there were any accomplices that we identify them. We believe this individual is responsible for all incidents that have taken place in Austin starting on March 2 and those that have occurred since then as well.”
4. Cell Phone Records Tracked Conditt to Hotel
Using “cell phone technology,” investigators tracked Conditt to Round Rock. He turned on his cell phone approximately two hours before he died, which led authorities to him, according to NBC News.
Investigators were led to a Red Roof Inn on Interstate 35 in Round Rock, WFAA reports. Surveillance teams were looking for the suspect in that area and spotted his car in the hotel parking lot, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said. Local police and federal agents “took up positions around the hotel awaiting the arrival of” tactical teams, Manley said, “because we wanted to have ballistic vehicles” to take the suspect into custody “as safely as possible.”
Manley said while they were waiting for the official vehicles to arrive, the suspect started driving away and officers subsequently followed him. But the suspect then drove his vehicle into a ditch on the side of the road and stopped. He then “detonated himself,” KVUE-TV reported.
5. The Suspect Is Deceased, Though it Is Not Known if the Cause Was Gunfire or His Own Alleged Detonated Bomb
“As members of the Austin Police Department SWAT team approached the vehicle, the suspect detonated a bomb inside the vehicle, knocking one of our SWAT officers back,” Manley said. “One of our SWAT officers fired at the suspect as well. The suspect is deceased and has significant injuries from a blast that occurred from detonating a bomb inside his vehicle.”
It is not yet known if Conditt was killed by the bomb he allegedly detonated in his vehicle, or by gunshots fired by the officer.
The officer-involved shooting will be investigated, according to Manley.
Had he survived,reporter Phil Prazan stated on Twitter that Travis District Attorney Margaret Moore said prosecutors would’ve charged Conditt with capital murder and asked for the death penalty.
“Travis County District Attorney @ElectMargaret tells me if Mark Anthony Conditt didn’t die in the explosion this morning, prosecutors would have charged him with capital murder and asked for the DEATH PENALTY,” @PhilPrazan tweeted. “@KXAN_News #AustinBombings”
Read more about the suspect below: