By Frederick H. Lowe
A man who allegedly placed four bombs in Austin, Texas, that killed a black man, a black teenager and injured two men and two women, blew himself up in his car Wednesday morning following a police chase, said Brian Manley, the chief of police.
Manley said Mark Anthony Conditt, 23, of Pflugerville,Texas, pulled his vehicle off to the side of the road and detonated a device that killed him.
Conditt is believed to be responsible for four bombings in Austin. Three of the bombs exploded after residents of a black and Hispanic neighborhood on Austin’s East Side opened packages housing the bombs.
The first bomb exploded on March 2, killing Anthony Stephan House, 39, after he opened a package found on his doorstep.
After House’s death, police did not issue a citywide warning telling residents not to open suspicious packages, because they suspected House had caused his own death.
Ten days later, a second bomb killed Draylen Mason, 17, and wounded a woman believed to be his mother when he opened a package. She was not identified.
That same day, a 75-year-old Hispanic woman was injured seriously after a bomb exploded. Her injuries resulted in the loss of fingers of one of her hands and caused one of her legs to be amputated.
Following the death of Mason and the wounding of the Hispanic woman, police issued a citywide alert and state and federal officials established a reward for information leading to the bomber’s identity . The reward was eventually raised to $115,000.
The fourth bomb was discovered on Sunday lying at the side of a road. It was different from the others because its explosion was caused by a tripwire. Two white bicycle riders in their 20s were injured. Their injuries required medical attention but were not serious.
The bombings occurred during the South by Southwest Festival which kept Austin, Texas’s capital city, on edge and led some in the black community to believe they were deliberately being targeted, which they asserted was easy to do because the city is racially segregated.
Police found Conditt living in a Round Rock, Texas, motel. Round Rock is 20 miles north of Austin. Police were waiting for reinforcements to make an arrest when he got into his car and drove away.
They followed him. He pulled off the road and into a ditch, detonated a device he had with him and killed himself.
According to the Austin-American Statesman, Conditt was traced to his motel by law enforcement officers who had reviewed security camera film footage from the FedEx drop-off store where he had brought packaged bombs. Officers also used cell ‘phone triangulation’ technology to locate him.
It was also learned that Conditt purchased online all the materials needed to construct the bombs he used.
Police have not established a motive for the deadly bombings.