25 minute confession on cellphone
Austin Weather Summary: 74 degrees
The 23-year-old man accused of setting off a string of explosives in the Austin-area is dead after detonating a bomb and killing himself as the SWAT team closed in to take him into custody, authorities have confirmed. While the suspect is dead, Austin police are warning the public to remain vigilant because there may be other devices out there.
Authorities have identified the suspect as Mark Conditt, 23, of Pflugerville, Texas.
APD Interim Police Chief Brian Manley said in a Wednesday evening press conference that police located a 25-minute phone recording containing what he classified as a "confession to the construction of the explosive devices" from Conditt. On the recording, Conditt described six bombs he claimed to have constructed and identified differences between each device, according to Manley. Manley said Conditt also described a seventh device, which the suspect had with him when he died.
"I want to let the community know that he described seven devices and that we know those seven devices are no longer in play," Manley said. "We have accounted for those devices."
Manley also said Conditt did not mention anything about terrorism or hate in the recording.
"It is the outcry of a very challenged young man talking about challenges in his personal life that led him to this point," Manley said.
The Austin Police Department said Wednesday the suspect's two roommates have been detained. One roommate was detained, questioned and released. The other is currently being questioned, police said. They are not under arrest currently, so their names will not be released.
Late Wednesday morning, police were working to evacuate homes and businesses within a five-block radius of Conditt's home. Officials announced they would be shrinking that perimeter a few blocks from the railroad, Walnut and Second Street areas.
According to WFAA reporter Rebecca Lopez, officials feared there could be bombs hidden inside the home. The evacuation area included residents in downtown Pflugerville west of Railroad and North of Pecan.
In a press conference from Pflugerville police, ATF and FBI officials said the home of the suspect had been cleared. Officials said no "completed" devices were found, but materials similar to the previous explosions were found primarily in one room. Police said they will be working to shrink the five-block evacuation perimeter a few blocks from the railroad, Walnut and Second Street areas, and all people affected are asked to go to the Pflugerville Library or Recreation Center until 9 p.m. Updates on the Pflugerville evacuations will be posted on pflugervilletx.gov, officials said. Officials also reported they were able to "reconstruct" some of the suspect's previous devices.
Residents living nearby told KVUE neighbors had been hearing loud noises at night over the past few weeks. Shaun Valentine, who has lived in Pflugerville for the past year and a half, said his wife heard a loud noise late one night last week and they now wonder if was connected to the Austin explosions.
"Last Tuesday, about 3, 4 o'clock in the morning, and she was asleep, and something just so loud made her pop up," said Valentine. They initially thought it was a transformer explosion, or someone at a local bar down the road. "The more we thought about it, we don't really hear anything around here, this neighborhood's really really quiet," said Valentine. "And then come to find out, the guy lives right there."
He said neighbors have posted on social media that they heard similar noises over the past few weeks.
"She said it was like the equivalent of someone standing in the backyard with a shotgun going off, was how loud that was," Valentine described.
Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said Conditt became a person of interest in their investigation within the past day and a half. Authorities used surveillance video from the FedEx store on Brodie Lane in South Austin to lead them to him, KVUE's Tony Plohetski confirmed.
They also used information from Google and from Conditt's computer history to confirm he was looking at information on where to go to ship devices, according to Plohetski's sources.
Investigators also believe that Conditt planned on doing more damage in the area. His Google search records revealed that he was researching addresses in Cedar Park and Austin, according to sources close to the investigation.
WFAA's Jason Whitely reported that law enforcement identified Conditt at approximately 9 p.m. Tuesday and were closing in on him based on packages he sent from FedEx. Whitely added that police wanted to surprise the man.
MORE: We got word last night about 9:00p that law enforcement had id’d the suspect and was closing in, based off the @FedEx pkgs he sent. But police wanted to surprise the individual — and did that overnight in Round Rock.
Authorities located the vehicle Conditt was known to be driving and found it at a hotel in Round Rock, Chief Manley said.
The Red Roof location in Round Rock released the following statement:
Officers from the Austin Police Department and federal agencies took up positions around the hotel as they awaited the arrival of tactical teams.Read More...