As the Austin bomber sensed that authorities were closing in on him on Tuesday night, he took out his cell phone and recorded a 25-minute video confessing to building the explosive devices — but didn’t explain why he targeted his victims, interim Austin police Chief Brian Manley said.
“It is the outcry of a very challenged young man talking about challenges in his life that led him to this point,” Manley said. “I know everybody is interested in a motive and understanding why. And we’re never going to be able to put a (rationale) behind these acts.”
The video made by Mark Anthony Conditt, whose string of package bombs killed two people and wounded five in Texas, was found on his cell phone when police recovered his body this morning. The cell phone was in Conditt’s possession at the time of his death, police said.
Manley says that Conditt did not mention any references to terror groups or bring up hate.
Police had come to believe Conditt was responsible for five explosions that killed two people and injured five others in Austin and the San Antonio area beginning March 2, and an arrest warrant was issued for him Tuesday night.
Authorities tracked Conditt to a hotel in Round Rock, about 20 miles north of Austin, after reportedly identifying him using receipts, internet searches, witness sketches and, ultimately, surveillance video that revealed he’d delivered packages days earlier to an area FedEx store, officials said.
Authorities were outside the hotel early Wednesday when Conditt got into his vehicle and drove away. They followed him until he pulled into a ditch and blew himself up, police said. The blast injured a SWAT officer.
Another SWAT officer fired a gun at Conditt, Manley said; it wasn’t immediately clear whether Conditt was shot.
The bombings — five over nearly three weeks, with some involving packages left on Austin doorsteps — had driven the area to near-panic.
The first three explosions in Austin involved cardboard packages left in front yards or on porches. The parcels weren’t delivered by the US Postal Service or services such as UPS or FedEx, police have said.
Those blasts — one on March 2 and two more on March 12 — killed or wounded three African-Americans and one Hispanic woman. They happened in east Austin areas where most residents are minorities, and some there expressed concern the attacks might have been racially motivated.
The first explosion killed Anthony Stephan House, 39; the second killed Draylen Mason, 17; and the third critically injured a 75-year-old woman. Police have not ruled out the possibility that those bombings could be hate crimes.
In the fourth blast, on Sunday, a device was triggered by a tripwire, injuring two white men in an area where most residents are white.
The fifth explosion happened early Tuesday at the FedEx sorting facility near San Antonio.
One of Conditt’s aunts released a prepared statement Wednesday, saying his relatives were “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,” the statement reads. “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.”