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What we know about the deceased Austin bombings suspect

The prime suspect in a series of bombings that terrorized Austin, Texas, took his own life overnight, blowing himself up when a SWAT team approached and shot at 23-year-old Mark Anthony Conditt. Police say Conditt built the bombs that killed two people and wounded four others. Hari Sreenivasan learns more from Syeda Hasan of KUT.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Police in Austin, Texas, still have questions to answer tonight about the serial bomber that terrorized the city. but their prime suspect is no longer at large. He took his own life overnight after a manhunt ran him to ground.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Austin's police chief broke the news early this morning. Officers had tracked the bomber to a hotel in the northern suburb of Round Rock overnight. He drove off, but ran his SUV into a ditch.

  • Brian Manley:

    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. And one of our SWAT officers fired at the suspect as well. The suspect is deceased.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    The suspect was identified as 23-year-old Mark Anthony Conditt, seen in this picture on his mother's Facebook page.

    Police say he built all of the bombs that terrorized Austin since March 2, killing two people and wounding four others. The first three package bombs were left on doorsteps, while a fourth blast in a residential neighborhood involved a more sophisticated device set off by a trip wire.

  • Woman:

    This is such a safe, friendly, family-oriented neighborhood. Just, somehow, you don't think it's going to happen here.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Early on Tuesday, a fifth package exploded at a FedEx distribution facility near San Antonio. A sixth device was found and disarmed at a FedEx distribution center in Austin. Investigators now say they started closing in on Conditt in the last two days, thanks to witness reports, cell phone data and security video from a FedEx store where he mailed one of the bombs.

    It's believed he bought the bomb-making materials at the Home Depot, but the motive is a mystery.

  • Brian Manley:

    We do not understand what motivated him to do what he did, and that will also be part of the continuing investigation as we try to learn more about him and to understand why he took the actions that he did.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    What's also unclear is whether he acted alone or whether any more bombs are out there.

  • Fred Milanowski:

    We want to make sure that if people see suspicious packages or bags, they continue to call 911 report and report that to the police, so we can respond and deal with those packages.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    SWAT teams descended today on the Austin suburb of Pflugerville. They searched the bomber's home and evacuated residents in a five-block radius.

    And for more on the investigation and what police have learned, we're joined again by Syeda Hasan of Austin's NPR station, KUT.

    They just spoke to press a little while ago. We were ending our report with what was happening at the home in Pflugerville. What more can you tell us?

  • Syeda Hasan:

    Well, we know that authorities and federal investigators have been at the scene at the suspect's home in Pflugerville.

    That neighborhood has been evacuated, a certain section of it around the suspect's home. Folks were asked to leave as authorities removed what they referred to as homemade explosives from the home of the suspect.

    And we know that these materials found at the suspect's home, investigators say that they seem to match materials that have been used in the series of attacks across Austin and the one outside of San Antonio, and so that's giving them leads to go off of in this investigation.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    What do we know about the suspect's family? Are they cooperating?

  • Syeda Hasan:

    Authorities have said that the suspect's family is cooperating.

    We know that some relatives of the suspect did release a statement saying that they are in shock, that they are grieving for the victims and the loved ones of those affected. And we do know that authorities were at the home of the suspect's parents earlier today as well.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    What else do we know about the suspect? I'm sure there's more reporting now that is starting to paint a fuller picture of his life.

  • Syeda Hasan:

    Right.

    We're beginning to learn a bit more about the suspect. We do know he was a 23-year-old white male, as you mentioned, did live in the Pflugerville neighborhood. Texas Governor Greg Abbott said on a local TV broadcast today that the suspect lived with two roommates.

    We know authorities were in contact with those two roommates. They did question them, and they say that those roommates are cooperating as well. KUT was also able to confirm that the suspect did attend the Austin Community College from 2010 to 2012. The college said that he didn't graduate from ACC, but his application to the college indicates that, prior to that, he was homeschooled.

    So we're beginning to learn a bit more about who he was.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Do we know anything more about the last minutes of the standoff?

  • Syeda Hasan:

    Well, authorities did brief us early this morning. They said that they were able to locate the suspect's vehicle outside this hotel in Round Rock, which is a suburb north of Austin, and police were waiting at the scene for backup.

    When they pursued the suspect, he left the scene in his vehicle. They pursued him, and eventually he pulled off into a ditch off a highway service road. And as police began to approach his vehicle, they say that he detonated a bomb that was in the vehicle with him.

    We also know that Austin Police Chief Brian Manley has confirmed that an officer did shoot the suspect. So we can't say for sure at this time whether he died as a result of that explosion or whether it may have been as a result of a gunshot.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    All right, NPR in Austin, KUT's Syeda Hasan, thanks so much.

  • Syeda Hasan:

    Thank you.

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