Authorities are now piecing together information about the man suspected in a deadly string of recent bombings in Austin, including what might have motivated him, now that the man has blown himself up.
Mark Anthony Conditt, 23, was the bomber, two law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation told NBC News. Authorities haven’t publicly identified him, and details about his life were scant in the hours after his death, as law enforcement agents scoured his and his parents’ homes and an old blog that appears to belong to him came to light.
Authorities said he was identified as a suspect through video sources and witnesses and was responsible for five bombings that killed two people and badly wounded four others since March 2. The suspect died from a bomb blast inside his vehicle as officers surrounded him, police said at a pre-dawn news conference Wednesday.
“We do not understand what motivated him to do what he did, and that will be part of the continuing investigation as we try to learn more about him and to understand why he took the actions he did,” Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said.
It isn’t clear if the suspect had an accomplice or if other explosives remain at large, Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday morning on Fox News.
Abbott said the suspect, whom he did not name, has two roommates who are cooperating with the investigation and are not being treated as suspects. The bomber didn’t have a criminal history or a military background, Abbott said.
Abbott also told NBC affiliate KXAN that “everything that we have right now shows he acted alone,” and that it wasn’t clear where the bombs were made.
Conditt used a foreign and “exotic” battery ordered online in each of the explosives, multiple senior law enforcement officials briefed on the investigation told NBC News. That trait helped a team of investigators from local police, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to trace the explosives to the same origin.
FBI agents came up with a list of phone numbers and individuals in the area of the bombings through pattern-recognizing computer systems and cell-site analysis. Video surveillance footage released Tuesday of the suspect dropping off two explosive packages helped authorities conclude who Conditt was.
He turned on his cell phone hours before police tried to pull him over, alerting police to his location, two senior law enforcement officials told NBC News.
Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, told KXAN he thinks the suspect’s “fatal mistake was when he walked into a FedEx office to mail the package.”
From that point, McCaul said, authorities could get surveillance video of him in his vehicle and his license plate number, and then identify him, see what he bought at Home Depot and track his cellphone.
The blasts struck multiple locations, which at first made detecting a pattern difficult. The first three explosives were hidden in packages left on doorsteps, while a bomb that went off on Sunday used a more sophisticated tripwire. Another parcel detonated Tuesday at a FedEx processing facility in Schertz, about 60 miles (96 kilometers) from Austin, near San Antonio.
Authorities warned early Wednesday that residents should remain vigilant in case the bomber planted additional explosives before his death.
Investigators previously said the blasts could be acts of domestic terrorism or possibly hate crimes since the victims of the first attacks were all black and Hispanic, though the two men hurt in Sunday’s explosion were white.
The package shipped via FedEx came from Austin and was heading back to an Austin address, but authorities have not divulged details about where it was going.
The mayor of Conditt’s hometown, the Austin suburb of Pflugerville, told The Associated Press the suspect lived only two blocks away from him in a part of the city known as Old Town.
Police had surveillance on the home overnight Tuesday, Mayor Victor Gonzales said. He said he didn’t personally know the family, but has had concerned neighbors approaching him because of the large police presence in the neighborhood.
A blogger who identified himself as Mark Conditt of Pflugerville described his interests as cycling, tennis and listening to music. In blogs dated from 2012, he wrote that gay marriage should be illegal and called for the elimination of sex offender registrations.
NBC hasn’t confirmed that the blog belongs to Conditt, but public records show only one Mark Conditt from Pflugerville.
“I do not believe it is proper to pass laws stating that homosexuals have ‘rights,'” the blogger wrote in the final post, from May 2012, comparing homosexuality to pedophilia and bestiality.