In Brief

What do we know about Austin bomber Mark Anthony Conditt?

None of the evidence shows what motivated the 23-year-old to embark on a nearly month-long spree of violence

conditt.jpg

Questions of how and why the quiet home-schooled Mark Anthony Conditt became the Austin bomber continue to plague the authorities.

None of the evidence gathered by investigators has given police many clues as to what motivated the 23-year-old to embark on a “nearly month-long spree of violence”, says CNN.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott told the television station KXAN that the suspect didn’t have a criminal record, hadn’t served in the military and was unemployed.

He says it appears that Conditt, whose bombs killed two people and wounded five, acted alone. But the authorities haven’t ruled out accomplices.

Police found a 25-minute recording on Conditt’s mobile phone, which was recovered after he blew himself up on Wednesday. In the recording he appears to confess to the bombings.

“It is the outcry of a very challenged young man talking about challenges in his life that led him to this point,” said interim Austin police chief Brian Manley.

In his confession, Conditt described the components of seven bombs he built and “detailed the differences among the bombs”, said Manley.

But the video fails to shed light on a possible motive. Conditt didn’t say anything that might suggest he was involved with terror groups or that the bombings were hate crimes.

“I know everybody is interested in a motive and understanding why. And we’re never going to be able to put a (rationale) behind these acts,” said Manley.

Intense loner

Conditt was “an intense loner who grew up in a tight-knit, deeply religious family, according to friends and neighbours”, who spoke to the New York Times.

Neighbours of Conditt, who was home-schooled and went to Austin Community College, are struggling to process the news that he was the suspected bomber.

“I know this is a cliché but I just can’t imagine that,” said one neighbour, whose children grew up playing with Conditt on Pfluger Street. The neighbour, who asked not to be named, described the suspect as a nice kid from a great family.

The idea that Conditt could be a skilled bomb maker seemed “unthinkable” to his grandmother Mary Conditt, said CNN.

He was quiet, kind, and she’d never seen any signs of malice and violence in him, she told the broadcaster.

“We had no idea of the darkness that Mark must have been in. Our family is a normal family in every way,” said an aunt, Shanee, who refused to give her last name, in a family statement.

In a phone interview from Colorado, Mary Conditt said: “If anything, he’s low-key and peaceful.”

Strict conservative views

According to Austin Community College, which Conditt attended from 2010 to 2012 but didn’t graduate from, Conditt held strict conservative views. In 2012, he created a blog for a US government class project, the college said in a statement.

“In the blog, which focused on national government topics of the time, Conditt gave his opinion opposing same-sex marriage and free abortions while he supported the death penalty and eliminating sex offender registries.”

In his profile for the blog, the suspect wrote: “The reasons I am taking this class is because I want to understand the US government, and I hope that it will help me clarify my stance, and then defend it.”

Despite this, the motivation for Conditt’s actions remain a mystery.

Jeff Reeb, a neighbour of his parents, told the New York Times the family had never expressed concerns about their son to him.

“I can tell you nothing about him personally, except that he was a nice, young kid,” Reeb said. “He always seemed like he was smart. And he always seemed like he was very polite.”

Reeb added: “My summation is it doesn’t make any sense.”

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