Weeks In Fear: A Timeline Of The Austin Bombings
The nearly month-long search for a serial bombing suspect in Austin, Texas, ended early Wednesday morning when the suspect exploded his own car. He died as law enforcement moved in.
Federal law enforcement identified him as Mark Anthony Conditt.
Two people were killed and five were injured during the weeks of his inexplicable attacks.
Five of the six bombs detonated or found so far were disguised as packages, reminiscent of those designed by Ted Kaczynski — also known as the "Unabomber." One of the bombs was anchored to a for-sale sign and triggered by a tripwire.
The packaged bombs exploding in Austin didn't show a clear pattern of attack — victims were racially diverse, package delivery method evolved and bomb triggers varied.
One thing is sure - March has been a fearful month for Austin residents.
The Austin Police Department warned citizens over and over to take precautions against unexpected packages. In fact, the department reported having responded to more than 1,250 calls about suspicious packages between March 12 and March 20.
APD responded to 420 suspicious package calls between 8 a.m. yesterday and 8 a.m. today bringing the total number to 1,257 calls since approximately 8 a.m. on March 12.— Austin Police Department (@Austin_Police) March 20, 2018
The first bomb exploded on March 2. When two more package bombs exploded on March 12, law enforcement had to evaluate whether they were connected to the original bomb, and then if they were all connected to the SXSW festival going on in the city at the time. And because the first victims had been African American and Latino, law enforcement also considered whether the bombings were racially motivated.
Law enforcement agents eventually concluded the bombings were unrelated to the SXSW festival. And after another bomb went off and added white victims, Austin law enforcement expanded their investigation.
The investigation finally led to a suspect. Austin Mayor Steve Adler told NPR's Rachel Martin that the bomber's death is "an absolute relief."
Here's a timeline of how it unfolded:
March 2: First bomb explodes, killing first victim
Around 7 a.m. CT: Anthony Stephan House, 39, is killed in an explosion after handling a package left on his front porch of his home in Austin, according to multiple reports.
According to friends, House was quiet, humble and self-assured. He was a father and a graduate of Texas State University.
March 12: Two more bombs explode, one more dead and two injured
Around 6:45 a.m.: Seventeen-year-old Draylen Mason is killed when the package his mother brought in from the front porch to the kitchen to open explodes. His 41-year-old mother is injured in the explosion.
About 12 p.m.: A 75-year-old woman is taken to the hospital in critical condition after handling a package left near her home, which is less than a 15-minute drive from the home in East Austin where the earlier bomb exploded.
The Austin Police Department links the two explosions to the bomb on March 2 and begins investigating them as related incidents.
March 18: Fourth explosion, law enforcement raises the stakes
Law enforcement tries to talk to the bomber directly through media channels.
Around 8:30 p.m.: Two men are injured in an explosion while walking on a sidewalk in an Austin neighborhood. The explosion was triggered by a tripwire connected to a bomb that was anchored to a for-sale sign. Interim Austin Police Chief Brian Manley reports later that 22-year-old and and 23-year-old men have "significant injuries" but are in stable condition at the hospital.
The FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Austin Police Department release a statement offering a $100,000 reward for any information and report that there are more than 500 law enforcement agents working on the Austin cases.
The #FBI, ATF, and Austin Police Department seek the public's assistance with identifying the individual(s) responsible for the package bombs which injured and killed several Austin, Texas, residents. Reward offered: https://t.co/fcGIut3Ou8 pic.twitter.com/wjdbWZciQZ— FBI Most Wanted (@FBIMostWanted) March 18, 2018
March 19: Investigation grows and changes
In a press conference after the fourth bomb, Manley confirms the fourth explosion is linked to the other three bombs. He notes that the bomber's use of tripwire "shows a higher level of sophistication, a higher level of skill" than they originally believed.
Manley urges Austin residents to stay away from any suspicious packages and instead immediately call 911.
Both FBI and ATF confirm that additional agents continue to come to Austin to help with the investigation.
March 20: Fifth explosion and sixth package, another method
Around 12:30 a.m.: A package blows up while traveling along a conveyor belt in a FedEx sorting facility in Schertz, Texas. One person sustained a small injury, but wasn't taken to the hospital.
The package was addressed to go to Austin and was sent from Austin, NPR's John Burnett reported — even though it was at a facility in a town north of San Antonio.
Around 6:20 a.m.: A suspicious package is found at another FedEx facility by the Austin airport. Law enforcement agents determine that the package contains an explosive device and intervene.
FedEx says the package was shipped by the same person as the first package.
Around 7 p.m.: An explosion at an Austin Goodwill is confirmed to be unrelated to other bombings.
March 21: Suspect identified, kills himself
Law enforcement agents identify a suspect, later named as Mark Anthony Conditt, with help from video surveillance sources and witnesses.
Early morning hours: Police and federal agents trace Conditt to a car in a hotel parking lot in Round Rock, just outside of Austin.
While police and federal agents waits for backup, the car starts to drive away. Law enforcement agents follow the car, but the car pulls into a ditch. As members of the SWAT team approach the car, the car explodes.
The suspect dies at the scene.
Police continue to issue caution to Austin residents, emphasizing they "remain vigilant" because law enforcement doesn't know what Conditt had done in the time before his death.
President Donald Trump tweets his congratulations.
At an evening press conference, Manley says Conditt video taped a confession Tuesday night in which he described seven explosive devices. Including the device he detonated as police closed in, that indicates there are no outstanding bombs, KUT reports.
"It'll never be called a happy ending," Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore said at the same press conference, "but it's a damn good one."
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.