Suspect In Austin Bombings Kills Himself, Police In Texas Say
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Details are continuing to emerge this morning from Austin, Texas, where police say the man believed to have carried out a string of deadly package bombings is dead. NPR has confirmed with federal law enforcement officials that the suspect is a white male in his 20s named Mark Anthony Conditt. He lived in an Austin suburb. Conditt killed himself by detonating a bomb during a standoff with a police SWAT team in the early hours of the morning. Texas Governor Greg Abbott provided these details to the local Fox station in Austin earlier this morning.
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GREG ABBOTT: The bomber had two roommates in his house where he lived in Pflugerville. The two roommates are cooperating at this time. There is no reason to believe they are suspects. But through those roommates, as well as being able to access social media accounts, as well as getting into the house and gathering information, we're going to learn so much more over the next few hours about what caused this individual to do this in the first place.
MARTIN: NPR's John Burnett is in the Austin suburb of Pflugerville, and he joins us now.
So John, you're there in this neighborhood where this young man lived. What are you learning? What's the scene there?
JOHN BURNETT, BYLINE: Hey, Rachel. Well, I'm looking at this - at the house where he lived. It's a two-story house on Second Avenue (ph) here in Pflugerville, little town north of Austin. It's kind of a deep-blue, purplish color. It's surrounded by state troopers wielding assault rifles with the occasional ATF bomb truck drives past. I spoke with a neighbor of his named Jay Schulz (ph). He's a network engineer - in shock, like everybody in this very quiet neighborhood with, you know, the doves cooing this morning. He said, you never thought you'd live near a psychopathic killer. He said he used to jog past the house. He would see Mark Conditt standing out front. He said he wasn't especially friendly, but they would nod to each other. He said he was, you know, medium height, brown hair, really kind of unremarkable looks, nothing to stand out.
He said he thinks there was an infant living in the house and that Conditt's parents may live there, also. And we know from KUT that Conditt was home-schooled and that he attended Austin Community College from 2010 to 2012, was not in the military. And another neighbor told me that he drives a red Ford Ranger pickup. We don't know if that was the one that he blew himself up in.
MARTIN: So we're just learning, as you are and authorities are - starting to piece together who this young man was. Can you remind us the circumstances of his death this morning in this standoff? What happened?
BURNETT: Right. Well, because of good police work, investigators tracked him to a hotel really not very far from here. It would be in Round Rock, which is immediately north of here on I-35. He was - he came out of his hotel room. They were - he's under surveillance, got in his car, drove away, drove into a ditch next to Interstate 35, and that's when the Austin police SWAT team moved in. And he detonated a bomb, injured slightly one of the SWAT officers. And then another one of the police took some shots at him. And so that's how it happened.
MARTIN: So we heard the police chief this morning say that while they believe that he is the sole bomber, that they just don't know if he might have set other bombs up that are still out there waiting to explode. I mean, just what have people been telling you as you've been taking the temperature there around town today about how people are feeling?
BURNETT: Well - right. I mean, certainly, the authorities are still saying, be careful, check out any suspicious packages. He may have left some more out there. I mean, he was quite the prolific bomb-maker. You know, there were six explosive devices that we know of. But I think there is a really palpable sense of relief here, Rachel. People are so grateful that he's the one and that this, you know, nightmare that Austin has been living may finally be over.
MARTIN: NPR's John Burnett reporting there from Pflugerville, Texas. This is the suburb of Austin where the suspected bomber had been living. John, thanks so much.
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