The suspected Austin bomber is dead after detonating a bomb inside a car on Interstate 35 and after a SWAT officer fired at him, Austin Police Department Chief Brian Manley said. The bomber’s name is Mark Anthony Conditt, according to law enforcement sources. Records show he is 23, but APD said he was 24 at a press conference Wednesday morning.
“This is the culmination of three very long weeks in our community,” Manley said.
The explosion happened on Interstate 35 in Round Rock near Old Settlers Boulevard around 2 a.m. Wednesday. Investigators had recently identified a white man as a person of interest and then a suspect, and found the vehicle he was known to drive at a hotel in Round Rock.
Law enforcement took up positions around that hotel and was waiting for APD’s tactical team to arrive to take the suspect into custody when he started to drive away. Officials followed, and the man pulled to the side of southbound I-35.
When SWAT approached, Chief Manley says the man detonated a bomb, which knocked one SWAT officer back and gave him minor injuries. Another officer who is an 11-year APD veteran fired at the suspect. He will be placed on administrative duty, per APD policy.
The suspect died and had “significant injuries” from the bomb, Manley said. He said his name won’t be officially released until the medical examiner identifies him and his next-of-kin is notified. Officials do not yet have a motive for the bombings but say they believe he is connected to all of them since March 2.
Southbound I-35 was closed for much of the morning while officials investigated, but reopened around 8:25 a.m. Round Rock ISD confirmed school will be open today, but students will be excused if they arrive late because of the traffic. Meridian World School, which is less than a mile from the investigation scene, is delayed until 10 a.m.
Police activity has centered in the parking lot of a Red Roof Inn at 1990 N. I-35, just south of Chisholm Parkway.
Michael Luna, a witness staying at the hotel who is ex-military, tells KXAN the blast sounded like two grenades going off.
“We don’t know where the suspect has spent his last 24 hours and therefore we still need to remain vigilant to ensure that no other packages or devices have been left in the community”
– Interim APD Chief Brian Manley
RRPD says there is no immediate danger to the public. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Austin Police Department, are on scene. APD will conduct an internal investigation into the officer-involved shooting, the Texas Rangers will also investigate, and the police monitor will be involved as well, Manley confirmed.
State troopers, ATF and FBI are in the area of Second Street and Walnut Street in Pflugerville and confirm the suspect’s house is nearby. A SWAT vehicle drove up before 10 a.m. and media were asked to move away from the area.
Manley also warned the public that officials do not yet know what the suspect did in the past day, and they don’t know if there are any more devices in the community. Law enforcement officials warn residents in Austin and surrounding communities to be vigilant and report anything suspicious.
“If you see something that looks suspicious, If you see something out of place, If you see something that gives you concern, call 911 and let us know,” Manley said.
Another media outlet in Austin received surveillance photos of what appears to be the suspect inside the FedEx shipping store on Brodie Lane. The pictures show a timestamp of March 18, 2018 at 7:37 p.m. The suspect, who has blonde hair, is wearing a baseball cap and can be seen carrying two packages. His hands appear to have gloves on them.
A Month of Terror
A multi-agency investigation that spanned numerous locations and two cities over the span of several weeks led authorities to the suspect in Round Rock.
The first bombing happened on Friday, March 2 at a home located at 1112 Haverford Dr. in northeast Austin. Anthony Stephan House, 39, died when he picked up a package on his front porch.
The second and third bombing happened 10 days later on Monday, March 12. The first explosion rocked Oldfort Hill Drive in east Austin at 6:44 a.m. Draylen Mason, 17, died at the scene. His mother was taken to the hospital with injuries.
The second explosion that day happened on Galindo Street in southeast Austin. Esperanza Morena Herrera, 75, was critically injured and remains hospitalized.
The fourth bombing happened in southwest Austin in the Travis Country neighborhood on Sunday, March 18 around 8:30 p.m. Two men in their 20s were injured when a tripwire bomb exploded on Dawn Song Drive. This case showed the serial bomber using a different method since the first three cases involved packages left at homes.
The fifth explosion happened on Tuesday, March 20 in Schertz at a FedEx sorting facility. That explosion led authorities to another suspicious package at the FedEx facility in southeast Austin. Manley said they aren’t releasing who those packages were being sent to, but says law enforcement has been in touch with them.On the same day, local and federal authorities confirmed the serial bomber sent two packages from the FedEx shipping store on Brodie Lane.
Over the course of the investigation, KXAN discovered investigators visited numerous hardware stores across the city searching for evidence.