The Texas man who police say carried out a three-week deadly bombing spree made a 25-minute video “confession” on his phone, which authorities recovered after he blew himself up on Wednesday as officers closed in to make an arrest.
Mark Conditt, 23, an unemployed man from the Austin suburb of Pflugerville, detailed how he made all seven bombs that have been accounted for - five that exploded in public, one that was recovered before it went off, and a seventh that he detonated as police rushed his vehicle early on Wednesday.
“He does not at all mention anything about terrorism, nor does he mention anything about hate, but instead it is the outcry of a very challenged young man, talking about challenges in his personal life,” Austin Police Chief Brian Manley told reporters.
“I would classify this as a confession,” Manley said.
Conditt, who had never before been in trouble with the law, killed two people and wounded five with a campaign of violence that began on 2 March, authorities said.
Police recovered a “target list” of addresses for future attacks, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing US Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, the Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
But the video indicated there were no more devices unaccounted for.
Conditt likely made the video between 9 pm and 11 pm on Tuesday.
According to Manley, Conditt said he believed police were getting close to him, and he was right. Authorities filed a criminal complaint and issued an arrest warrant around that time.
By Wednesday morning, police had tracked Conditt to a hotel and were waiting for the arrival of tactical units and equipment before they planned to make an arrest, Manley said. But then Conditt drove away.
Police followed and decided to stop him before he got on the highway. Just as officers approached the vehicle, the explosion went off, Manley said. There was also some police shooting.
“This can never be called a happy ending, but it’s a damn good one for the people of this community, the people of the state of Texas,” Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore told reporters.
There was a sense of relief in Austin, the Texas state capital of 1 million people, which is a liberal enclave of university students and tech companies.
“I am going to be leery and extra careful tomorrow at work, but I feel relieved now,” said Jesus Borjon, 44, an employee of parcel delivery firm UPS, who lives in Pflugerville.
TRAIL OF CLUES
The trail of clues leading investigators to the serial bomber ranged from store receipts and fragments of booby-trapped packages to surveillance video of the suspect in a hat and wig.
Experts scoured the suspect’s home for further evidence on Wednesday, removing bomb components.
“I wouldn’t call it a bomb-making factory, but there’s definitely components consistent with what we’ve seen in all these other devices,” Fred Milanowski, special agent in charge of Houston office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, told reporters.
Investigators evacuated a four-block radius around Conditt’s house while they searched the home, which Conditt shared with two roommates who had been detained for questioning. Conditt moved in a year ago after leaving his parents’ home about a mile away, public records showed.
One law enforcement official involved in the investigation but speaking on condition of anonymity told Reuters that some of the materials found in remnants of the bombs were traced back to where they had been sold.
The source also said investigators, once they had identified Conditt as a potential suspect, obtained a warrant to monitor his Google search history.
Surveillance video showed the suspect in a hat and a blond wig, as he prepared to ship one of two booby-trapped packages he was known to have sent through FedEx Corp’s delivery service, according to the source.
He used the alias “Kelly Killmore” to ship those packages, ABC News reported, citing unnamed law enforcement sources.
Conditt, who was home-schooled, described himself as a conservative but said he was not politically inclined, according to blog posts he wrote as part of a US politics class at Austin Community College. He attended from 2010 to 2012 and had no record of any disciplinary actions, the school said.