Who was Mark Anthony Conditt, the Texas serial bomber?
Mark Anthony Conditt was unemployed, introverted - and a killer who terrorised Austin, Texas for a month, killing two and injuring four
The suspected serial bomber whose deadly packages terrified Austin for almost three weeks before he blew himself up as law enforcement closed in was identified on Wednesday as Mark Anthony Conditt.
The quiet, home-schooled son of a local couple that sold Amway products is suspected of staging a three-week deadly bombing campaign that gripped the Texas capital of Austin.
A federal law enforcement official briefed on the case described Conditt as 23 or 24 years old from a community north of Austin. Earlier, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said only that the suspect was a white man who authorities flipped from “person of interest” to suspect hours before his death.
Victor Gonzales, the mayor of Pflugerville, said Conditt lived about two blocks from him in the city, which is about 32 kilometres (20 miles) north of Austin.
Troopers from the Texas Department of Public Safety and agents with the ATF cordoned off several blocks in the neighbourhood where Conditt lived.
Lee Rocha, who has lived in the areas for 28 years, said he’d often see Conditt in town and at the nearby karaoke bar.
“I never really talked to him, but I’m not really a conversation person,” said Rocha, who is a regular karaoke performer.
“He sometimes came in with others, sometimes by himself. I didn’t get the sense that he was a popular guy.”
Fralen Allen, who works near Conditt’s home, was stunned that the quiet community would be a crime scene. “I’m sickened,” she said. “Surely in hindsight someone must have known and maybe this could have been prevented.”
Danene Conditt, who identifies herself on Facebook as Mark Conditt’s mother, posted a photo of the suspect in February 2013.
“I officially graduated Mark from High School on Friday,” the post reads. “1 down, 3 to go. He has 30 hrs of college credit too, but he’s thinking of taking some time to figure out what he wants to do....maybe a mission trip. Thanks to everyone for your support over the years.”
Attempts to contact members of the Conditt family by telephone and at their homes in Pflugerville were unsuccessful.
The unemployed Conditt was living with a couple of roommates in a home just hundreds of yards from the mayor of Pflugerville when a three-week series of explosions rocked the community, killing two people and injuring five others, public records show.
Conditt attended Austin Community College from 2010 to 2012 but did not graduate, school spokeswoman Jessica Vess said in an email.
He had amassed 30 hours of college credit when he received his high school diploma, having been home-schooled with his three siblings, his mother wrote on Facebook.
A staff member at Crux Semiconductor in Austin told KVUE-TV in Austin that Conditt was hired there when he was 19, but was let go in August after failing to meet expectations.
The staff member described Conditt, who had worked in purchasing and sales, as “quiet, introverted and reserved.”
Surveillance video at a FedEx drop-off location north of San Antonio helped authorities identify the suspect, the federal law enforcement official said.
Investigators were able to pull multiple images from the video, in which the suspect was allegedly seen entering the store with a package.
The biggest mistake the suspect made was going to FedEx, the official said.
Authorities were able to track him to a hotel car park near Austin by monitoring his mobile phone activity, the official said.
Authorities also obtained information from Google and from the suspect’s computer history that confirmed the bomber was looking at information on where to ship devices, KVUE-TV reported, citing law enforcement sources.
Authorities identified the suspect late on Tuesday. Police determined the car he was driving and found it at a hotel in Round Rock north of Austin. A Swat team was assembled and more firepower was on the way when the suspect attempted to flee, Manley said.
The suspect’s vehicle ran into a ditch moments before the explosion that apparently took the bomber’s life.
Four exploding packages in Austin since March 2 killed two people and injured at least four more. Another blast at a FedEx distribution centre near San Antonio early Tuesday slightly injured one person.
Fred Milanowski, agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms’ Houston Field Division, said investigators believe all the bombs were built by the same person. Manley said they believe the dead suspect is that person.
Neighbours said the Conditt family, who lived in a neat white house with a blue picket fence around the front porch, was quiet.
“They are a really nice, calm family,” said retiree Jeff Reeb, who lives next door. “They have always been extremely nice.”