After killing two people and injuring five others, the Texas bomber killed himself. The bombings started on March 2 and ended with his death on the 21 of March, causing weeks of terror.
In Harns Ridge neighborhood of north Austin, Anthony Stephen House received fatal wounds. At 6:55 in the morning he received and opened an average looking package. However, its contents were different from the usual delivery. Inside was a pipe bomb which left an 8-year-old girl fatherless. 17-year-old Draylen Mason was killed on March 12 when another bomb was detonated. He was described as a promising high school student who was taking college classes and played stand up bass in a youth orchestra. Professor Samuel Osemene from Austin Community College said Mason, “…was a young guy with so much future and potential. We talked about college. He hugged me every morning before class.” The package, much like the one House found, was left on the doorstep and brought inside the house and into the kitchen where it detonated. Mason was not the only one home when the bomb was detonated, and his mother suffered non-life threatening injuries. She was found by their neighbors in her yard covering her face in torn clothing from the blast. The second bombing on March 12 was in Montopolis neighborhood in southern Austin and resulted in a 75-year-old Hispanic woman being badly injured. After this third bombing, it was suspected that these bombings were hate crimes because of the targeting of minorities (House and Mason being African-American). The pattern of doorstep deliveries and minority attacks came to a stop when two white men were injured walking down the street. There was a tripwire which triggered the detonation of the bomb. On March 20, a package exploded on the conveyor belt in a FedEx establishment. One employee was injured, but treated and released on scene.
Before it was discovered that Mark Anthony Conditt, 23 years old, was the person behind the bombing, the three weeks of serial bombings brought anxiety and fear to the city. At a City Council meeting on Thursday the mayor of Austin, Texas, Mayor Steve Adler, said the community was beginning to “fray”. Governor Greg Abbott announced a $15,000 reward for whoever gave information that lead to the arrest of the bomber(s). On the sixth and final blast that killed Conditt, many sighed in relief, but others are still tense, waiting for the worst.
At a FedEx south of Austin, a surveillance camera caught Conditt’s red SUV on tape. He went to FedEx on Sunday and parked within viewing range of the surveillance camera which caught the vehicle’s license plate. Conditt was also captured on surveillance which showed him bringing in two packages while wearing a blond wig, a baseball cap, and pink gloves. He was tracked down to the parking lot Round Rock hotel. Conditt pulled out as officers descended into the area and worked to get into place. Authorities followed close behind but quickly pulled a tactical maneuver to force the SUV to stop. As officers charged up to the vehicle Conditt detonated a bomb, blowing back SWAT officers. The blast left officers minorly injured, but killed Conditt.
For almost two days, federal agents searched Conditt’s home, located in Pflugerville. While searching for clues pointing towards the reason behind the bombing, they carefully removed explosive materials. Components for making bombs similar to the one detonated in the past couple of weeks were found inside his home, but there were no completed bombs found. The bombs were homemade with supplies from hardware and sporting goods stores. They contained shrapnel, some had mousetrap switches and others had clothes pin switches with distinctive springs. A 25-minute long cellphone video was found of Conditt was found. As he spoke he referred to himself as a “psychopath” and showed no remorse for his actions. He even said in the recording, “I wish I were sorry, but I am not”. He talked about how he feels as though he had been disturbed since childhood. Conditt also added on a promise of blowing himself up in a crowded McDonald’s if he thought authorities were surrounding him.
Conditt had two roommates who were detained and questioned by police. One was released hours after the death of Conditt, while the other was released the next afternoon. Neither of the two roommates was publicly identified or arrested.
Conditt was the oldest of four children and they were all home-schooled. Aside from the blog he created for a U.S. Government class project and a few family photos he posted, he had left little trace on the internet. On his blog, he often responded to commentary made by someone else. He shared his opinions on controversial topics, writing in favor of the death penalty, saying gay marriage should be illegal and gave his opinion on why we should consider removing sex offender registries.
When Lori Claes was asked if she thinks these events were racially motivated she said, “I can not really say if it is or isn’t. From what I heard about the video the bomber made, he didn’t regret anything and he did not give any reason for the attacks. I can’t really get in his head so, I am not sure.” With the information given out by the police and other news outlets, the reason for these bombings is not clear and may never be.
by Sarah Jane Murphy