Police recover explosives from suspect's home - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Police recover explosives from suspect's home

Posted: Updated:

3:40 p.m.
  
Authorities say they've recovered homemade explosives from inside the home of the man responsible for planting a series of bombs around Austin.
  
The Austin Police Department and federal authorities said in a statement Wednesday afternoon that they were "working to safely remove and dispose of" the explosives at a home on Second Street in Pflugerville, just north of Austin.
  
That's the home suspected serial bomber Mark Conditt shared with roommates.
  
Authorities evacuated four blocks around the home "in an abundance of caution."
  
Police say Conditt built five bombs that exploded over three weeks, killing two people and severely wounding four others. He used one of his own devices to blow himself up overnight as a SWAT team closed in.
  
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3:35 p.m.
  
The chairman of the U.S. House Homeland Security committee says authorities seem to think the Austin bombing suspect had "above average intelligence."
  
Republican Congressman Michael McCaul told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the suspect matched the FBI's initial profile suspicion that the bomber was likely a white male. But he says a psychological profile probably won't be known until investigators go through Mark Conditt's writings and social media postings.
  
Authorities say Conditt blew himself up overnight in his vehicle in a hotel parking lot in another suburb as a SWAT team closed in on him.
  
McCaul says the suspect bought nails and other bomb-making equipment at a Home Depot but bought batteries for the devices on the Internet.
  
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3:20 p.m.
  
Bombing suspect Mark Conditt's family says they are "devastated and broken" at the news of his involvement.
  
The Conditt family released a statement Wednesday afternoon expressing shock and grief, as well as offering their "prayers for those families who have lost loved ones ... and for the soul of our Mark."
  
Conditt's uncle, Mike Courtney, tells The Associated Press he doesn't "know that anybody saw this coming." Courtney described his nephew as a smart, intelligent and kind "computer geek."
  
The family's statement says they had "no idea of the darkness that Mark must have been in."
  
Austin police say Conditt died overnight after he set off an explosive device inside of his vehicle in a suburban Austin hotel parking lot as SWAT teams closed in.
  
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1:55 p.m.
  
Authorities have detained two people who lived with bombing suspect Mark Conditt.
  
Austin police said Wednesday that one roommate was questioned and later released, while the second was still being held for questioning.
  
Authorities did not release the names of the roommates, explaining that they have not been placed under arrest.
  
Federal and state law enforcement agencies earlier Wednesday issued a news release saying a federal criminal complaint and arrest warrant were issued Tuesday night for Conditt on a charge of unlawful possession and transfer of a destructive device.
  
Officials say the 23-year-old Conditt blew himself up overnight in a suburban Austin parking lot as a SWAT team closed in on him. They say his motives remain unknown.
  
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1:30 p.m.
  
Authorities have publicly identified the dead Austin bombing suspect as 23-year-old Mark Conditt, of Pflugerville.
  
Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies issued a news release Wednesday saying a federal criminal complaint and arrest warrant were issued Tuesday night for Conditt on a charge of unlawful possession and transfer of a destructive device.
  
The agencies say the investigation remains open and the documents remain under seal. They also repeated their warning that members of the public should report anything that looks suspicious, as there may still be bombs that haven't been found.
  
Authorities say Conditt blew himself up overnight in a suburban Austin parking lot as a SWAT team closed in on him. They say his motives remain unknown.
  
Conditt is suspected of having planted four bombs in Austin this month that killed two people and seriously injured four others.
  
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1 p.m.
  
A neighbor of the Austin bombing suspect's parents says the couple homeschooled all four of their children.
  
Jeff Reeb said Wednesday that Mark Conditt's parents educated Conditt and his three younger sisters at their home in the Austin suburb of Pflugerville. The sisters ares 21, 18 and 13.
  
The 23-year-old Conditt enrolled in a community college in 2010 but didn't graduate.
  
Gov. Greg Abbott told KXAN-TV in Austin that Conditt was apparently unemployed when he began planting bombs, the first of which exploded March 2. In all, two people were killed and four others were seriously wounded.
  
A worker at a Pflugerville company, Crux Manufacturing, says Conditt had worked there in the past. The worker declined to be identified, saying police had instructed employees not to speak to the media.
  
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12:35 p.m.
  
Partially unsealed federal court documents show that agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms were ready to arrest Mark Anthony Conditt on Tuesday on a charge alleging he had received, possessed or transferred destructive devices.
  
A U.S. Magistrate Judge heard by phone Tuesday an ATF agent's request to issue an arrest warrant for Conditt and signed the warrant electronically.
  
Many of the court documents remained sealed on Wednesday, including two orders from the magistrate and the cause for the warrant.
  
No other people are named in the criminal complaint cover sheet, which says Conditt is wanted for offenses between March 2, when the first bomb went off, and Tuesday, when the warrant was signed.
  
Authorities say Conditt blew himself up overnight in his SUV as a SWAT team closed in on him in an Austin suburb.
  
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12:25 p.m.
  
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says the cellphone number of the Austin bombing suspect was of interest to law enforcement before he was captured on surveillance video at a FedEx store.
  
Abbott told reporters Wednesday that authorities used cellphone traffic data to put the suspect at the site of the explosions around Austin. He says the suspect's phone number drew the attention of investigators.
  
Police haven't released the suspect's name, but a law enforcement official who was briefed on the investigation identified him as Mark Anthony Conditt. The official wasn't authorized to discuss the case publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
  
Abbott also said that among the items the suspect purchased at a Home Depot were five signs saying "CAUTION CHILDREN AT PLAY." He says he was told a tripwire that injured two men on Sunday in southwest Austin was tied to one of the signs, which would be consistent with what authorities have previously said about how the explosive was rigged.
  
Police said earlier Wednesday that the suspect was 24 years old, but Conditt is listed as 23 years old on his driver's license and other official documents.
  
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11:50 a.m.
  
A Republican congressman from Texas says the Austin bombing suspect bought a lot of his bomb-making equipment from a Home Depot store in his hometown.
  
U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, a Republican from Austin who is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told KXAN-TV that authorities retraced the suspect's steps after he was caught on surveillance video at an Austin-area FedEx store. McCaul says investigators obtained the suspect's license plate number and were able to identify him, then track what he purchased at a Home Depot.
  
Authorities have not released the suspect's name, but a law enforcement official who was briefed on the investigation identified him as Mark Anthony Conditt.
  
Authorities say Conditt blew himself up overnight as a SWAT team approached his SUV in a motel parking lot outside of Austin.
  
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11:45 a.m.
  
The SUV where the Austin bombing suspect blew himself up has been hauled away.
  
Crews loaded the red vehicle and two large white vans that apparently forced the SUV off the road onto flat-bed trucks which then drove away.
  
Bomb squads subsequently began checking the ground under where the vehicles had been parked.
  
Authorities say the 24-year-old suspect blew himself up as a SWAT team approached his SUV, which had been parked in a motel parking lot in the Austin suburb of Round Rock.
  
Investigators believe he made all four of the bombs that were planted around Austin this month and that killed two people and injured four others.
  
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11:30 a.m.
  
Pflugerville police have begun evacuating the area around the home of the Austin bombings suspect and federal authorities are preparing to deploy an anti-explosives robot.
  
Pflugerville police Cmdr. Keith Ritchie says the FBI told local police to evacuate the area late Wednesday morning. Reporters waiting nearby are being pushed back and neighbors are being evacuated from their homes.
  
Ritchie says the order came after investigators searched the suspect's home and surrounding area.
  
He says he doesn't know what prompted the order.
  
An ATF vehicle could be seen arriving and officials were unloading an anti-blast robot.
  
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11:15 a.m.
  
A Republican congressman from Austin is praising the work of law enforcement in tracking down the man suspected of planting four bombs this month in the Texas capital.
  
U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, who is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told KXAN on Wednesday that it was "really great police work" that led investigators to 24-year-old Mark Anthony Conditt.
  
Authorities say Conditt blew himself up overnight as a SWAT team approached his SUV in a motel parking lot outside of Austin. Police haven't publicly released Conditt's name, but a law enforcement official who was briefed on the investigation identified Conditt as the suspect on the condition of anonymity because the official hadn't been authorized to discuss the case publicly.
  
McCaul says he thinks the suspect's "fatal mistake was when he walked into a FedEx office to mail the package."
  
He says from that point, 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.
  
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10:35 a.m.
  
A neighbor who watched the Austin bombing suspect grow up says he "always seemed like he was smart" and "polite."
  
Jeff Reeb said Wednesday that he's lived next to the parents of Mark Anthony Conditt for about 17 years and that they are good neighbors.
  
Reeb says Mark Conditt and his grandson played together into middle school and that Conditt visited his parents regularly.
  
The parents live a few miles from the Pflugerville home where Mark Conditt lived with roommates. Reeb says Conditt was in the process of gutting the house and remodeling it, which meant a lot of hammers and nails around frequently.
  
He says police had an unmarked car parked near Conditt's parents' house overnight into Wednesday. He says Condit's father, whom he called Pat, worked as an Amway distributor and also bought electronics on the side to resell.
  
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10:25 a.m.
  
A spokeswoman for a community college says the suspected Austin bomber was a student there from 2010 to 2012 but didn't graduate.
  
Austin Community College spokeswoman Jessica Vess said in an email Wednesday that Mark Anthony Conditt hadn't attended the school since that time. She says the school is working with Austin police to provide any information they need.
  
A law enforcement official has told the AP that the suspect was Conditt. The official, who has been briefed on the investigation, spoke on the condition of anonymity because the official wasn't authorized to discuss the case publicly.
  
Conditt lived in Pflugerville, which is just northeast of Austin.
  
Authorities say Conditt blew himself up overnight in his vehicle in a hotel parking lot in another suburb as a SWAT team closed in on him. Investigators believe Conditt made all of the bombs used in the four Austin attacks, which killed two people and injured four others.
  
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10:20 a.m.
  
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says that at this point, investigators believe the Austin bombing suspect acted alone.
  
Abbott told Austin's KXAN-TV on Wednesday that "everything that we have right now shows he acted alone," but he cautioned that the investigation is ongoing.
  
Abbott says the suspect had no known military experience or criminal record.
  
He also says it is unclear if the bombs were made at the suspect's house or perhaps at the motel where he was arrested.
  
Abbott says investigators were watching the suspect for 24 hours, that his cell phone pinged in several different locations and that a key break in the case came when witnesses saw him at several stores wearing a blonde wig that looked odd to others.
  
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9:50 a.m.
  
The Austin bombing suspect doesn't appear to have left much of a trail on social media, but in 2012 posts on what appears to be his personal blog he expressed opinions about a range of topics, including gay marriage.
  
A law enforcement official identified the suspect as Mark Anthony Conditt of Pflugerville. The official, who has been briefed on the investigation, spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the case publicly.
  
Texas officials say Conditt blew himself up early Wednesday north of Austin as authorities closed in on him, bringing an end to a three-week manhunt.
  
A blogger who identified himself as Mark Conditt, of Pflugerville, made six entries, all in 2012, in which he wrote that he thinks gay marriage should be illegal and that sex offender registries should be eliminated.
  
He also described his interests as cycling, tennis and listening to music.
  
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8:45 a.m.
  
The mayor of the suspected Austin bomber's hometown says the suspect lived only two blocks away from him in a part of the city known as Old Town.
  
Pflugerville Mayor Victor Gonzales told The Associated Press on Wednesday that police had surveillance on the home overnight Tuesday, though he said he didn't personally know the family.
  
Gonzales says he had concerned neighbors approaching him because of the large police presence in the neighborhood. He says he let them know everything would be OK.
  
Authorities say the suspect blew himself up overnight in his vehicle in a hotel parking lot in another suburb as a SWAT team closed in on him.
  
A law enforcement official has told the AP that the suspect was Mark Anthony Conditt. The official, who has been briefed on the investigation, spoke on the condition of anonymity because the official wasn't authorized to discuss the case publicly.
  
Investigators believe Conditt made all of the bombs used in the four Austin attacks, which killed two people and injured four others.
  
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8:35 a.m.
  
A law enforcement official has told The Associated Press that the dead Austin bombing suspect was Mark Anthony Conditt.
  
The official, who has been briefed on the investigation, spoke on the condition of anonymity because the official wasn't authorized to discuss the case publicly.
  
Pflugerville Mayor Victor Gonzales told the AP that the bombing suspect lived in his city, which is a suburb of Austin not far from the site of the first of four bombings.
  
Authorities earlier described the suspect only as a 24-year-old white man.
  
Associated Press writer Sadie Gurman in Washington contributed to this report.
  
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8:25 a.m.
  
Reporters have converged on a neighborhood in an Austin suburb where the bomber who died overnight lived.
  
Police have blocked off the roads around Wilbarger and Second streets in Pflugerville, which is just north of Austin and not far from where a package bomb killed a 39-year-old man on March 2.
  
Pflugerville Mayor Victor Gonzales told The Associated Press that the bomber lived in his city, two blocks from his house.
  
Jay Schulze, who has lived in the Pflugerville neighborhood for 13 years, says he was out jogging last night when he was stopped by police and asked about the bombings. He says there has been a large police presence in the neighborhood since last night and that that police flew drones over a home from about 9 p.m. until about 3 a.m.
  
He described the home over which the drones were flying as "a weird house with a lot of people coming and going" and a bit rundown.
  
Authorities have not released the dead suspect's name, describing him only as a 24-year-old white man.

6:40 a.m.
  
Austin's mayor is urging residents to remain vigilant, despite the death of a man suspected in this month's string of bombings in Texas' capital city.
  
Mayor Steve Adler said Wednesday on NBC's "Today" show that: "We're just really relieved and just incredibly thankful for this army of law enforcement that has been in our community here for the last week or so."
  
Authorities say the suspect blew himself up in his vehicle overnight as a SWAT team closed in on him in a suburban Austin hotel parking lot. They haven't released his name and say they don't know his motives, but they described him as a 24-year-old white man.
  
Adler is asking residents to continue to report anything that seems suspicious or out of place.
  
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6:30 a.m.
  
A federal agent says it's "hard to say" whether the dead suspect in this month's Austin bombings was acting alone.
  
Fred Milanowski, agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms' Houston Field Division, told reporters Wednesday that investigators believe the dead suspect built all of four of the package bombs that have blown up in Austin since March 2.
  
Authorities say the 24-year-old suspect blew himself up in his vehicle overnight as a SWAT team closed in on him in a suburban Austin hotel parking lot.
  
Milanowski says investigators aren't completely convinced that there aren't other explosive devices "out there," and that they want the public to remain vigilant.
  
He called the bomb that killed the suspect "a significant explosive device."
  
Asked if the suspect built bombs prior to the start of the spree in Austin, Milanowski responded: "We know when he bought some of the components. It's hard to say whether he was building along the way"
  
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5:55 a.m.
  
President Donald Trump is tweeting his praise of law enforcement after the suspect in the Austin bombings after the bomber blew himself up as police closed in.
  
In a Wednesday morning tweet, Trump said: "AUSTIN BOMBING SUSPECT IS DEAD. Great job by law enforcement and all concerned."
  
Austin has been targeted by four package bombings since March 2 that killed two people and wounded four others. A fifth parcel bomb detonated at a FedEx distribution center near San Antonio early Tuesday.
  
Police Chief Brian Manley said at a news conference that investigators zeroed in on the suspect and located his vehicle in a suburban Austin hotel. He says police were waiting on a tactical team for hours when the suspect's vehicle began to move.
  
He says it ended up in a ditch near the side of the road and that as a SWAT team closed in, the suspect detonated a bomb inside the vehicle. The 24-year-old suspect suffered significant injuries from the blast and died.
  
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5:35 a.m.
  
The authorities believe the suspect who died with SWAT officers closing in on him was behind all of the bombings in Austin this month, but they're concerned that there may be other package bombs "that are still out there."
  
Austin police Chief Brian Manley said at a news conference early Wednesday that the 24-year-old suspect is believed to have been responsible for all major Austin bombings since March 2. He refused to release the suspect's name or discuss his background, saying that the motivation for the bombings remains a mystery.
  
FBI agent Chris Combs, head of the agency's San Antonio office, says, "We are concerned that there may be other packages that are still out there."
  
The four package bombs in Austin this month killed two people and injured four others. A fifth parcel bomb detonated at a FedEx distribution center near San Antonio early Tuesday.
  
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5:15 a.m.
  
Austin's police chief says investigators don't know the motive behind this month's string of bombings in the Texas capital.
  
Police Chief Brian Manley said at a news conference early Wednesday that the suspect set off an explosive device inside of his vehicle in a suburban Austin hotel parking lot as SWAT teams closed in. One SWAT team member fired a shot at the vehicle.
  
Manley identified the suspect only as a 24-year-old white male. He says the suspect's name won't be released until his next of kin are notified.
  
Austin has been targeted by four package bombings since March 2 that killed two people and wounded four others. A fifth parcel bomb detonated at a FedEx distribution center near San Antonio early Tuesday.
  
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5:05 a.m.
  
Austin's police chief says the serial bombing suspect who has terrified Texas' capital city this month is dead.
  
Police Chief Brian Manley said early Wednesday that the suspect set off an explosive device in his vehicle as SWAT team members were closing in. He says one of the SWAT officers also shot at the vehicle.
  
Manley identified the suspect only as a 24-year-old white male. He says the suspect's name won't be released until his next of kin are notified.
  
Austin has been targeted by four package bombings since March 2 that killed two people and wounded four others. A fifth parcel bomb detonated at a FedEx distribution center near San Antonio early Tuesday.
  
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4:55 a.m.
  
The Austin American-Statesman is citing a high-ranking law enforcement official who says the suspect in this month's bombings in the Texas capital blew killed himself with an explosive device as the authorities closed in on him.
  
The Associated Press wasn't immediately able to confirm the report.
  
The newspaper cites the official as saying that law enforcement identified the suspect in the past 24 hours based largely on information, including security video, gleaned after the suspect allegedly sent an explosive device from an Austin-area FedEx store.
  
Austin has been targeted by four package bombings since March 2 that killed two people and wounded four others. A fifth parcel bomb detonated at a FedEx distribution center near San Antonio early Tuesday.
  
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4:35 a.m.
  
ATF says it is with the FBI and Austin Police Department "at the scene of the individual suspected in the #packagebombmurders".
  
The agency tweeted they were on the scene early Wednesday morning where heavy police activity was being reported.
  
The Austin Police Department had tweeted earlier that they were investigating an officer-involved shooting at the location along Interstate 35.
  
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4:11 a.m.
  
Police in Texas say they are working an officer-involved shooting but it is unclear if it's related to the recent spate of bombings.
  
The Austin Police Department tweeted early Wednesday morning that the shooting happened in the 1700 block of N. Interstate 35.
  
There have been multiple reports of heavy police activity in the area.
  
Investigators have been pursuing a suspected serial bomber in Austin since the first explosion on March 2. A 39-year old man was killed. A 17-year-old boy was killed and two women were injured in two separate blasts on March 12.
  
On Sunday, two men - ages 22 and 23 - were injured in a blast trigged by a tripwire. A worker at a FedEx distribution center was treated and released Tuesday morning after reporting ringing in her ears.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

NBC NEWS - The suspect in a spate of bombings that terrorized residents of Austin, Texas, died early Wednesday after detonating an explosive inside his vehicle as a SWAT team tried to apprehend him on the side of a highway, officials said.

Authorities had tracked the suspect — a 24-year-old white man — to a hotel in Round Rock, a city in the Austin metropolitan area, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said at a news conference.

They tracked his vehicle until he pulled over on Interstate 35 and "the suspect detonated a bomb inside the vehicle, knocking one of our SWAT officers back," Manley said, adding that the office sustained minor injuries.

Another member of the SWAT team fired and, as is standard practice, has been placed on administrative duty while the investigation continues, Manley said.

"The suspect is deceased and has significant injuries from a blast that occurred from detonating a bomb inside his vehicle," he added.

Shortly after the announcement, President Donald Trump congratulated law enforcement personnel.

The police, FBI, and personnel with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have been deployed to the scene, the ATF said in a tweet earlier in the morning.

The incident happened at around 2 a.m. local time (3 a.m. ET), according to NBC News affiliate KXAN.

Even though the suspect is dead, officials warned locals to keep on the lookout for other possible explosives.

"This is the culmination of three very long weeks for our community," Manley said. "We don't know where the suspect has spent his last 24 hours, and therefore we still need to remain vigilant to ensure no other packages or devices have been left in the community."

ATF Special Agent in Charge Fred Milanowski told reporters that officials were "concerned that there may still be other devices out there."

Austin has been on edge after a series of package or other bombs detonated across the city over the past few weeks.

The most recent occurred Sunday when two people were injured by a device believed to have used a tripwire.

Authorities have warned that the devices appeared to be getting more sophisticated and asked residents of one neighborhood to stay indoors Monday.

The FBI has sent 350 special agents to the Texas capital as well as extra bomb squads.

"We are clearly dealing with a serial bomber," Brian Manley said Monday. "We will have to determine if we see a specific ideology behind this."

Andrew Blankstein reported from New York, and Alexander Smith from London.

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