2018 Austin Bombings

2018 Austin Bombings

Updated Mar 21, 2018 at 12:21PM EDT by Bilbo Swaggins.

Added Mar 20, 2018 at 04:35PM EDT by Matt.

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Overview

The 2018 Austin Bombings refer to the ongoing investigation into serial explosions throughout the Austin and San Antonio, Texas areas. Though, the attacks were originally thought to be racially motivated, the fourth bombing refuted that theory due to the detonation of the device via tripwire.

Background

On March 2nd, 2018, Anthony Stephan House, 39, was killed in the first explosion, after handling a package left on his front porch (residence shown below).[1] This first bombing was thought to be an isolated incident at the time.



Developments

March 12th Bombings

On March 12th, two more explosions occurred in the Austin area killing 17-year-old Draylen Mason and critically injuring his mother and injuring a 75-year-old Esperanza Herrera. In both cases, the explosions were caused by a package left on the outside of the residence. Both incidents occurred only a few miles away from each other.[2] It is suspected that the explosion involving Herrera was meant for another person, as she was visiting her mother's house and picked up the box, which was addressed to a different residence.

March 18th Bombing

On March 18th, two men were critically injured in a fourth bombing. While it is believed that this bombing was planned in connection with the previous ones, officials noted that the use of tripwire in the explosion signaled a "higher level of skill" from the assailant.[5]

That day, Brian Manley, Austin's interim police chief said, "We are clearly dealing with what we expect to be a serial bomber."

He delivered a message to the Austin community, urging them to not handle or approach unknown packages. He said, "Do not handle packages. Do not pick up packages. Do not disturb packages."

The Austin Police Department tweeted [3] Chief Manley's message in a video (shown below). The message received more than 450 retweets and 230 likes in two days.




That day, officials also announced that they would be increasing the reward for any information that led to the arrest of the suspect to $115,000. Chief Manley tweeted,[17] "The total reward amount for information leading to the arrest & conviction of person/s responsible for #packagebombmurders is 115k. Please contact @Austin_Police at (512) 472-tips (8477) with any details. We need your help!" The post (shown below) received more than 1,400 retweets and 970 likes in two days.


Chief Brian Manley @chief_manley The total reward amount for information leading to the arrest & conviction of person/s responsible for #packagebombmurders is 115k. Please contact @Austin_Police at (512) 472-tips (8477) with any details. We need your help! FBI SanAntonio. @FBISanAntonio #HappeningNow #FBI, @Austin-Police and @ATFHou announce reward increased to $100,000 for info leading to arrest & convictiorn of person(s) responsible for #packagebombmurders. PACKAGE BOMB MURDER INVESTIGATION

March 20th Bombings

On March 20th, 2018, a fifth bomb exploded at a FedEx facility in Schertz, Texas, just outside of San Antonio. One employee at the facility was injured in the explosion.

Officials at FedEx confirmed that the sender had mailed another package from the Austin area. The second package had been turned over to law enforcement, who would detonate the explosive safely. Both packages had been sent from the same location, a FedEx facility in Sunset Valley, a small, independent city within Austin.[4]

That day, Congressman Michael McCaul confirmed that more than 500 law enforcement officials were currently investigating on the case.

Suspect's Death

On March 21st, using "extensive evidence" from FedEx's security systems on the package sent on March 20th, FedEx and authorities were able to identify the person who sent them.

The suspect was identified as a 23-year-old white male named Mark Anthony Conditt. On the morning of March 21st, as SWAT officer closed in on his vehicle, Conditt detonated a device while in his car in a ditch off Interstate 35 outside of Austin. After the explosion, police opened fire. Conditt was found dead.

Authorities are still unclear as to Conditt's motivations.[25][26]

Racial Motivations

Due to the fact that the first three bombings occurred in predominantly black and latino neighborhoods, early speculation surrounding the attacks focused on a racial motivation. Additionally, two of the people killed in the bombings, House and Mason, were friends with and prominent members of the African American community.[6]

However, after the fourth bombing, these theories were largely debunked due to its placement in a predominantly white community. Furthermore, because of the use of tripwire, authorities believe it would've been difficult for the assailant to choose their victim. Though, some authorities are still investigating potential hate crimes.[7]

Online Reaction

News of bombings spurred threads in various subreddit including /r/The_Donald, [8] /r/Fuckthealtright,[9] /r/ApplyingToCollege,[10] /r/MTB[11] and more.

Throughout the investigation, Twitter published several Moments pages regarding the bombing.[14][15][16][24]

Government Reaction

On March 20th, 2018, White House Press Secretary tweeted,[12] ".@POTUS mourns for victims of the recent bombings in Austin. We are monitoring the situation, federal authorities are coordinating w/ local officials. We are committed to bringing perpetrators of these heinous acts to justice. There is no apparent nexus to terrorism at this time." The post (shown below) received more than 1,600 retweets and 6,800 likes in 24 hours.


Sarah Sanders @PressSec .@POTUS mourns for victims of the recent bombings in Austin. We are monitoring the situation, federal authorities are coordinating w/ local officials. We are committed to bringing perpetrators of these heinous acts to justice. There is no apparent nexus to terrorism at this time.

In a statement, Texas Governor Greg Abbot said,[13] "I want to ensure everyone in the Austin region and the entire state that Texas is committed to providing every resource necessary to make sure these crimes are solved as quickly as possible."

Following the death of the suspect, President Trump tweeted,[26] "AUSTIN BOMBING SUSPECT IS DEAD. Great job by law enforcement and all concerned!" The post (shown below) received more than 16,000 retweets and 71,000 likes in less than six hours.


Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump AUSTIN BOMBING SUSPECT IS DEAD. Great job by law enforcement and all concerned!

Media Coverage

Virtually every major media outlet covered the bombings, including The Washington Post,[18] NBC,[19] USA Today,[20] The Los Angeles Times,[21] TIME,[22] Slate[23] and more.

Search Interest

External References

[1] The New York Times – What We Know About the Bombings and Explosions in Austin and San Antonio

[2] The Texas Tribune – Exploding packages tap into simmering tensions over Austin’s racial segregation

[3] Twitter – @Austin_Police's Tweet

[4] The New York Times – Second Package Is Found From Same Sender as Bomb at FedEx Facility Near Austin

[5] Dallas News – Austin blast set off by trip wire shows 'higher level of skill' from serial bomber, police say

[6] The Washington Post – Austin police search for bombing motive, say explosives made with ‘skill and sophistication’

[7] Vox – A “serial bomber” is targeting Austin: what we know

[8] Reddit – "Bombings in Austin Texas on the same day as the Mayor of London is speaking at SXSW "Part & Parcel of receiving Parcels":":https://www.reddit.com/r/The_Donald/comments/83wrzq/bombings_in_austin_texas_on_the_same_day_as_the/

[9] Reddit – PSA: Y'all Queda have adapted their namesakes terrorist bombing tactics. They're bombing people of color in Austin, Texas.

[10] Reddit – Rest in Peace Draylen Mason

[11] Reddit – PSA: Be on alert if you're riding in Austin

[12] Twitter – @PressSec's Tweet

[13] CNN – Package explodes at FedEx facility near San Antonio

[14] Twitter – Austin police say city is clearly dealing with a 'serial bomber'

[15] Twitter – Two of the Austin bombing victims shared family connections

[16] Twitter – Reward is now $115,000 for tips in Austin package bombings

[17] Twitter – @chief_manley's Tweet

[18] The Washington Post – Package bound for Austin explodes at Texas FedEx facility, second package recovered by investigators

[19] NBC – FedEx explosion in Schertz, Texas, is linked to Austin blasts

[20] USA Today – Blast that rocked Texas FedEx facility may narrow search for Austin bomber

[21] The Los Angeles Times – Tensions mount as another package bomb believed bound for Austin explodes at FedEx facility

[22] TIME – Police Swamped With 1,200 Calls About Suspicious Packages: The Latest on the Austin Bombings

[23] SLATE – A Timeline of the Austin Package Bombings

[24] Twitter – Austin bombing suspect killed himself in explosion, police confirm

[24] CNN – Austin bomber identified as Mark Anthony Conditt, source says

[25] The New York Times – Austin Bombing Suspect Mark Conditt Blew Himself Up, Police Say

[26] Twitter – @realDonaldTrump's Tweet

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