Published On: Thu, Mar 22nd, 2018

Austin Bomber Had List Of Future Targets And Made A 25-Minute ‘Confession’

Hours after a serial bomber blew himself up as authorities closed in, investigators discovered that the homegrown Texan who terrorized Austin for 19 days left behind a list of future targets and a 25-minute “confession” on his phone, officials said Wednesday.

Austin Bomber

After hundreds of investigators swarmed Austin in recent days to stop the bomber, it was a combination of high-tech surveillance and old-fashioned shoe-leather investigating the bombings that led officials to Mark Anthony Conditt, an Austin resident who had no clear motive or criminal record.

Conditt didn’t appear to be motivated by terrorism or hate, but the confession investigators found on his cellphone was “the outcry of a very challenged young man” dealing with problems in his personal life, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said.

The series of bombs linked to Conditt used similar components that made it easy for officials to link the devices: unusual batteries, apparently purchased online from Asia, and nails used as shrapnel, according to U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, the Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

Trying to find the buyer of the nails, officials “went to every hardware store” in the area to find customers who had made large purchases, and they struck gold with a Home Depot store in the Austin suburb of Round Rock, McCaul said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.

“The fatal mistake that led law enforcement to him — because he was pretty good at evading surveillance cameras — was when he walked into Home Depot,” McCaul said. Investigators obtained surveillance video of Conditt walking into the store in a wig and walking back out to a vehicle with a license plate connected to his name.

From there, McCaul said, investigators obtained a cellphone number linked to Conditt, which had been turned off for “a while” — until Wednesday morning.

Investigators detained and questioned two of Conditt’s roommates Wednesday as officials sought to determine whether Conditt had any help in the string of bombings. One of the roommates already has been released, while the other was still being questioned, Austin police said in a statement on Twitter.

They were scrutinizing photos of the suspected bomber Wednesday, comparing them to high school yearbooks and trying to remember whether they had seen him.

“Our little town of Pflugerville had our own Unabomber,” she said.

Conditt worked for several years at a local semiconductor manufacturer, Crux Manufacturing, before he was fired in August for poor performance, according to KVUE-TV.

The business’ owner, who spoke to the television station anonymously, said Conditt “seemed like a smart kid who showed a lot of promise” and worked in purchasing and sales.

“He was very quiet and introverted” and did not have any confrontations with management, the owner said, adding that he was given several warnings for not meeting expectations before he was fired. “He would prioritize things in his own way.”

Investigators began zeroing in on Conditt over the last two days, and officials were moving to make an arrest at a hotel in the suburb of Round Rock when Conditt began driving away, Manley, the police chief, said at a news conference.

The vehicle ran into a ditch, and as officers approached, the driver detonated an explosive that killed him and knocked one officer back, Manley said.

Conditt’s death followed days of rapid developments in the case.

On Tuesday, a bomb inside a package exploded on a conveyor belt at a FedEx shipping center in Schertz, northeast of San Antonio and about 60 miles from Austin. One worker was treated at the scene for minor injuries.

It was the fifth in a series of bombings this month. A sixth bomb was found intact at another FedEd facility near the Austin airport.