Austin police chief Brian Manley told reporters Wednesday that serial bomber Mark Conditt recorded a 25-minute video confession on Tuesday while being pursued by police. (Conditt died before being apprehended when an apparently self-detonated bomb went off in his car.) Manley’s comments about Conditt’s motive were curious:
I know everybody is interested in a motive and understanding why. And we’re never going to be able to put a ration behind these acts. 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 that led him to this point.
Here’s some of what’s been reported about Conditt:
• He participated in what an acquaintance described to BuzzFeed as a Christian survivalist youth group for home-schooled children whose members carried knives and practiced archery and shooting. The group was reputedly called “Righteous Invasion of Truth,” whose acronym is RIOT.
• He stated in a blog post that gay marriage should be illegal because homosexuality, like bestiality and pedophilia, is “not natural.” Wrote Conditt: “I do not believe it is proper to pass laws stating that homosexuals have ‘rights.’ “
• Another individual who knew him told the Austin American-Statesman that he was lonely, argumentative, and “rough around the edges.”
• The first two individuals targeted by his bombs were black—39-year-old Anthony Stephan House and 17-year-old Draylen Mason. (Both died.)
This isn’t to say Conditt’s case is open-and-shut or doesn’t require further investigation. A Latina woman was injured by another bomb, but authorities say she may not have been the one targeted by it. Two white men were injured by a bomb Conditt apparently placed outdoors. And we don’t yet know the intended destination of the device that exploded at a FedEx shipping center or another that was found and disposed of in a controlled detonation at a different FedEx facility. But should it really be impossible for a law enforcement official in 2018 to imagine that violence committed by a young, angry white man—one who was apparently trained to prepare for cataclysmic events by adults in a weapons-fixated, insular right-wing community—might speak to issues beyond his personal life alone?