Early Wednesday morning, police announced that a 24-year-old man suspected of being behind the package bombs in Austin, Texas, blew himself up in his vehicle after being chased by police. That news came the day after a package bomb that was apparently intended for Austin detonated at a FedEx distribution center near San Antonio, injuring one person. Police say they believe that explosion was connected to the others, making it the fifth incident since the beginning of the month, when a man was killed at his home. Over time, the incidents were similar enough to seem linked but varied enough to seem unpredictable, raise questions, and put Austin residents on edge.
Here is a timeline of the Austin bombings as they have unfolded:
The first bombing—though the police would describe it as an “isolated incident” at the time—occurred on a Friday. Around 7 a.m., Anthony Stephan House, a 39-year-old father of an 8-year-old girl, was killed on the porch of his house by a package bomb in Haverford Drive in northeast Austin. Police did not yet confirm, however, that the “device” that caused the explosion was a package bomb.
The following Monday, police confirmed that a package bomb was the source of the explosion and reclassified House’s death from a homicide to a “suspicious” death. Assistant Police Chief Joseph Chacon told reporters that it was doubtful someone left the package bomb on House’s porch and that it was possible House had made the device himself and accidentally set it off, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
Police would later say they had been operating under the theory that the explosion had something to do with a nearby house that had just a few days earlier been the location of a drug bust. A week later, police came under fire for downplaying the bombing.
The narrative changed abruptly a week later when two more explosions happened in relatively quick succession. Around 6:45 a.m., police were alerted to another package bomb explosion in Oldfort Hill Drive in east Austin. The bomber likely placed the bomb on the doorstep of the house, and it appears to have detonated when brought inside, police said. The explosion killed 17-year-old Draylen Mason, who is remembered as a talented musician. Mason’s mother was also injured in the explosion.
Police immediately began considering a link to the March 2 explosion. House’s stepfather told the Washington Post he believed the killer was targeting people by race, as House and Mason were both related to prominent members of the black community in Austin. Police didn’t rule out the possibility of a hate crime.
Just before noon, police raced off after a call of a third explosion in Galindo Street in southeast Austin. A 75-year-old Hispanic woman, Esperanza Herrera, was badly injured but not killed. Police confirmed in a press conference that all three explosions were linked and said they believed the packages were delivered by hand by someone with “a certain level of skill and sophistication,” and not by mail carriers or delivery services. Police warned Austin residents to be cautious and report any suspicious-looking packages. They did so, calling in more than 150 packages by the next morning. None of the packages were dangerous.
Almost a week later, on Sunday, a fourth explosion startled investigators by appearing to strike randomly. Two white men in their 20s who were walking and riding a bike in Travis Country, a more affluent neighborhood in southwest Austin, were seriously injured around 8 p.m. when they set off a tripwire, triggering the bomb. The police described this device as different from the package bombs but displaying a similarly high level of “sophistication.” Police Chief Brian Manley called the killer a “serial bomber.”
Police told reporters they received “more than 500 leads,” according to the Associated Press, and had several persons of interest but no suspects. At the time of the fourth explosion, authorities had increased the reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction to $115,000.
The NAACP released a statement calling the bombings acts of “domestic terrorism” and cited the attacks on people of color in the first three bombings.
Around 1 a.m. Tuesday, another package bomb exploded, this time on a conveyer belt in a FedEx distribution center near San Antonio, leaving one worker with minor injuries. An FBI spokeswoman told reporters that investigators suspect it is related to the other bombings, and a member of law enforcement told CBS News that the package appears to have been mailed from Austin, to Austin.
Later in the morning, Austin police deployed a hazardous materials squad to a FedEx shipping facility in Austin after a suspicious package was reported. It’s unclear if that package is linked to the bomb called in earlier in the day.
On Tuesday night, emergency services reported there was another package explosion that injured a man in his 30s. Police later said the package that caused the injury was not a bomb but contained an “incendiary device” and that there was no reason to link the incident to the serial bombings. According to NBC News, the president of Goodwill Central Texas said that one of his employees sustained minor hand injuries when he was looking through a bag of donations. According to the AP, someone donating to Goodwill had dropped off a device used in military training, and it was not believed to be the work of the bomber or a copycat.
Early Wednesday morning, police announced that the suspect in the case had blown himself up in his vehicle after police chased him from a hotel in the suburb of Round Rock. Investigators had been closing in on him as a suspect over the last day or so, and Manley described the bomber as a 24-year-old white man whose motives are still unknown. As members of a SWAT team approached his car, the man set off an explosion, injuring one of the officers. Another officer fired at the suspect.
The suspect was later identified as Mark Anthony Conditt, who lived in Pflugerville, a suburb northeast of Austin.
Although the suspect is dead, police warned Austin residents to be wary, as authorities do not know where the suspect “spent his last 24 hours” and said he might have planted other bombs. While authorities have said they believe the bombs were all made by the same person, they have not ruled out that the suspect might have been aided by an accomplice.
Update, March 20, 2018 at 12:35 p.m.: This post has been updated with information about the package that exploded at a FedEx center Tuesday morning.
Update, March 20, 2018 at 2:25 p.m.: A previous version of this post stated that there was a second bomb at the FedEx distribution center near San Antonio, per information from the police. Police have since said there was no second device. This post has been updated to reflect that statement.
Update, March 20, 2018 at 9:50 p.m.: This post has been updated with information about a second incident on March 20.
Update, March 21, 2018 at 9:02 a.m.: This post has been updated with news about the suspect’s death, as well as more information about the incident at a Goodwill store.
Update, March 21, 2018 at 10 a.m.: This post has been updated with information about the suspect’s identity.