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Crime News

Here's How Police Tracked Down The Austin Package Bomber

Police used what little information they had from a FedEx surveillance video to track down the Austin serial bomber Mark Anthony Conditt.

By Eric Shorey

On March 2, 2018, a series of bombings began in Austin, Texas. The explosive packages sent by the culprit would take the lives of two people and injure five more before a suspect could be tracked down. Mark Anthony Conditt, the 23-year-old thought to be behind the killings, would ultimately take his own life using an explosive device during a March 21 standoff with police. Now, a New York Times report details how the FBI were able to track down the bomber with such little info.

Police started their search by examining surveillance video from an Austin FedEx facility, which showed a disguised Conditt dropping off a package. The same footage showed the suspect driving a red 2002 Ford Ranger. They did not have license plates for the vehicle, and began trudging through records of those who owned a car of the same make and model.

Investigators noticed that in the video, the suspect was wearing a pair of pink construction gloves. They began tracking local Home Depots to see if a male of similar size and racial profile had bought those exact gloves in recent history. Eventually, a few matches were found.

"Agents fanned out throughout the city of Austin going to big-box retail stores as well as locally owned stores trying to determine whether or not there were suspicious purchases," Tony Plohetski, an investigative reporter for the Austin American-Statesman, told CNN's "New Day."

Police spoke to the men who owned both the gloves and the car, eventually leading them to Conditt.

SWAT officers began encroaching upon Conditt, despite his lack of criminal record that would lead them to believe he was capable of such acts. As they arrived, Conditt detonated one of his bombs inside his own car, killing himself.

Police continue to search for more information on what lead Conditt down this destructive path. Amongst the evidence gathered, they discovered a 25-minute confession.

Police described Conditt's testimonial in interviews.

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

Special agents involved with the search for Conditt commented on the uniqueness of the situation.

“We haven’t seen an effort like this in many, many years,” said Christopher H. Combs, special agent in charge of the F.B.I.’s office in San Antonio, according to The New York Times.

Police are now assuring the public that all seven of the packages sent by Conditt have been accounted for. They are less positive about whether or not Conditt had any accomplices. Conditt's roommates are currently undergoing questioning.

Conditt's tactics for delivering his deadly parcels had varied. The first three explosive devices were placed on the doorsteps of victims — not mailed. It was his trip to a FedEx that wound up making him traceable to police.

Police continue to hunt for a motive.

[Photo: Getty Images]

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