Five blasts. Four injuries. Two deaths. And then one final blast that killed the mad bomber.
The killing began with a bomb on the front porch of a tree-lined street in Austin, Texas. It ended off I-35 at a Red Roof Inn in Round Rock, Texas, when the bomber set off his final bomb and ended his own life.
Haverford Drive, with its clean narrow suburban streets and cookie cutter homes, was an unlikely place for a killer to leave a bomb disguised as a package. Unlike the Unabomber, the Austin bomber offered no manifestos. His victims were white, black and Hispanic. Some were chosen deliberately and others by chance. They ranged in age from 17 to 75. There was no common denominator except their vulnerability.
We have heard much in recent weeks about the killing power of firearms.
Mark Anthony Conditt, a college dropout, assembled increasingly sophisticated explosive devices. He didn’t use an AR-15, but he still spread fear and death around Austin. His tools of death were both exotic and ordinary, supplies from a local Home Depot and exotic batteries ordered online from Asia. The nails that tore through the bodies of his victims were obtained locally and the batteries were bought globally.
He bought a “Caution, Children at Play” sign at Home Depot and added a bomb and a tripwire. That’s also where he obtained the odd pink gloves that he could be seen wearing in the FedEx video.
Law enforcement was able to trace these items and many more to his Home Depot shopping expedition. The surveillance footage of Conditt kept multiplying as law enforcement tracked him back in time.
But while law enforcement could examine his habits, they knew very little about his mind.
They know a great deal about how he built the bombs, where he obtained the components, the nails, the galvanized pipe and batteries, and how he planted them, but his motives are another matter.
Conditt outwardly appears to fit the profile of a number of recent mass shooters like Adam Lanza and Elliot Rodgers. His obsession appeared to be killing for the sake of killing. Even at the end, he took more pride in the bombs he had built than in any political message. Facing capture or death, the video he recorded on his cell phone delved painstakingly into his bomb-making techniques.
Like many serial killers, Mark Anthony Conditt wanted the police to know how clever he had been.
The 25 minute confession that he recorded left law enforcement with few answers. It reportedly dealt with Conditt’s bomb-making techniques and his personal grievances. But not with anything political.
“He does not at all mention anything about terrorism nor does he mention anything about hate,” Austin’s Chief Manley said. “What was the motive? What was the reason? Sometimes we can’t assign reason to irrational acts.”
There are few answers at the Conditt home with its picket fence porch and drooping American flag. The one truth we have comes from the name that he used to ship his FedEx bombs: “Kelly Killmore”.